Property tax reform will provide relief, help schools
We all love a good movie filled with drama and suspense. Most of us like to see a happy ending with the good guys prevailing in the end.
The new call for the Texas Legislature makes me feel like I am a player inside of one of these movies in which the bad guys keep popping back to life time after time repeating the same actions over and over with a goal of killing and destroying.
These villains (the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the Senate) just won’t seem to go away, all the while the good guys (Speaker Strauss, most House members, and locally elected officials) try to fend them off at every turn.
In the special session that began yesterday, the Governor has charged the Texas Legislature with coming up with a solution for property tax reform because obviously he believes that State rather than your elected city councilmen and county commissioners should control local taxes.
This is the part of the movie where I am on the edge of my seat, as I see a similar game plan unfolding, in which the State is trying to create a terrible plan for cities and counties like the one they have created for school districts.
I thought Republicans believed in local control, but I guess “local” now is reserved for those elected officials in Austin.
The bad guys are attacking the wrong thing and are disrespecting our local representatives for no reason. The only way to have meaningful property tax reform is to address school finance.
The true cost driver on your tax bill is your school property tax, as it is typically 50-plus percent of your overall bill. If the state would create a new school finance formula in which recapture was eliminated, our local tax payers would see a significant reduction in their tax bill.
For example, we are scheduled to send $8,500,000 back to the state this year as a part of the “Robin Hood” tax recapture program. Currently, one penny generates $300,000 for FISD, so 28.33 cents of your tax bill is sent to Austin in the form of recapture.
If we factor for inflation, we could reduce our tax rate by 25 cents. Our average residential taxpayer currently pays $2,793 and our average taxable residence is $243,710. If we reduced our tax rate by 25 cents on that average taxable residence, that amount would be reduced to $2,169, which is a $624 savings per year. That would be a sizable and significant decrease for tax payers.
If we want a happy ending to this movie in which the good guys (you as a tax payer) win, then we must address school finance first in order to have true property tax relief. If we want to stop the bad guys, then we must work together to let our voices be heard.
Please let your elected officials or their opponents in elections know your desires through your campaign donations, your letters, your emails, your social media accounts, your phone calls and, most importantly, through your votes.
The special session has begun, I challenge you to do your part and share your wishes with those elected on your behalf. It is time to ask your elected official to be a statesman rather than just a politician.