The Texas Senate approved a property tax plan Monday that could result in lower revenues for cities and especially schools across the state. Cities would be required to get voter approval for revenue growth over 3.5 percent. But for school districts, that threshold is lower -- just 2.5 percent. view article arw

A coalition of activists, labor groups and politicians said Monday that commercial property owners aren't paying their fair share of taxes because they win large reductions when they protest their property appraisal values. Communities United for a Greater Dallas said in a report that the Dallas Central Appraisal District's reductions have deprived the county's local governments entities of more than $1 billion in revenue over the last five years. view article arw

The Texas Senate broke a logjam Monday that had paralyzed the upper chamber's priority legislation for weeks, blunting a controversial provision in its property tax reform package and then advancing the bill without having to deploy a procedural “nuclear option.” Though a vote on Senate Bill 2 had been expected last week, an apparent lack of support had stalled the vote in the upper chamber, where the backing of 19 senators is generally required to bring a bill up for debate. view article arw

The House of Representatives is set to debate House Bill 2, a bill designed to slow the growth of property tax bills, on Monday in session, after failing to do so on Thursday, April 11. Members of the House were seemingly ready for a long debate. The clerk and the House even printed out copies of the 180 amendments that were pre-filed on House Bill 2. view article arw

On the house floor for debate, Gov. Abbott, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said increasing sales taxes by one cent for property tax relief is a no-brainer trade. They said it could generate an extra $5 billion. Jeff Baum, the chief financial officer for Lubbock ISD, said this could mean more funds for education. view article arw

Texas’ top three political leaders — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — threw their support Wednesday behind a proposal to increase the sales tax by one percentage point in order to lower property taxes across the state.  But that’s only if lawmakers agree to limit future local property tax increases. view article arw

Our governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker usually like to be seen and heard opposing tax hikes. But now they're pushing a plan to add a penny to Texas' sales tax. What? Why? How would it affect you? And what position should you take? Their idea is to use a sales tax hike to offset property tax relief. Slowing down the steep upward trajectory of property tax is one of their two top goals for this legislative session. The other is school finance reform, which is impossible to separate from property taxes because most of your property tax pays for public education. view article arw

The Texas House is expected to tackle its much-anticipated proposal for slowing the growth of property taxes Thursday in what could be one of the lengthiest — and most heated — debates of the 86th legislative session. House Bill 2 is a top priority for Gov. Greg Abbott. It would attack rising property taxes from two angles. First, the bill aims to retool the property appraisal processand the way that landowners protest those values. Second, it would lower the amount of tax revenues many local governments can collect before seeking voter approval. view article arw

The state's "Big Three" unveiled the proposal in a joint statement. The idea would need approval from two-thirds of the House and Senate and a majority of Texas voters.  Texas' top three political leaders — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — threw their support Wednesday behind a proposal to increase the sales tax by 1 percentage point in order to lower property taxes across the state.  But that's only if lawmakers agree to limit future local property tax increases. view article arw

Tax policy and state policy get mixed in unexpected ways in the Texas Legislature. Lawmakers are considering tax bills that would regulate vaping and trying to work out the social policy kinks in what could be the largest tax proposal of this legislative session.  And when they are writing tax bills to raise money, they’re making social policy — even when the social effects of a tax aren’t under discussion. That might be the case when the same committee takes up legislation — as soon as Wednesday morning — to raise sales taxes by a penny and use the resulting $5 billion (or more) in revenue to pay for property tax cuts. view article arw

Repost!  Top state leaders have toured the state promising Texans they will feel less financially cramped by oversized property tax bills after the legislative session. So far, the two legislative chambers have taken different approaches to keep that promise, meaning they will have to hash out an agreement this spring.  To make a difference in the average homeowner’s tax bill, lawmakers must address school districts, which levy more than 50 percent of all local property taxes in the state. A few proposals on the table would provide some amount of tax relief for residents with different home values.  How would those proposals affect you next year? It depends on where you live and what kind of home you own. view article arw

AUSTIN — Texas had the third highest property tax rate in the nation last year, according to a new study. The study by ATTOM Data Solutions found the average effective tax rate in Texas last year was 2.18 percent, trailing only New Jersey and Illinois. Unlike other states in the top tier, however, Texas has no income tax and relies heavily on property tax revenue to fund public schools and local government.  At the 2.18 percent tax rate, the owner of a $200,000 home in Texas paid $4,360 in property taxes a year, on average. The rates were 2.25 percent in New Jersey and 2.22 percent in Illinois. view article arw

A Texas Supreme Court ruling means Rusk County entities will be on the hook for an estimated $2.2 million in tax refund payments to energy companies, with the county and Henderson ISD hit the hardest. Rusk County commissioners learned recently that two oil field compressor companies will be due refunds of $297,899 with another estimated $281,472 in refunds due from the county and its special road and school funds. Meanwhile, Henderson ISD trustees learned during their regular meeting Tuesday that the district must pay $867,000 from the ruling, plus an estimated $544,600 from out-of-court settlements that are just now being worked out between appraisal districts and property owners statewide. view article arw

Southeast Texans are once again grappling with mixed feelings for the petrochemical plants that our economy is built on — appreciation for the jobs they provide, and a desire that some of them pay more tax dollars to the communities that have welcome them. The latest version of this dispute is playing out in the Port Arthur ISD, where Superintendent Mark Porterie is understandably distressed to learn that Motiva is challenging its tax bill to the district. view article arw

North Texas mayors are warning cities could face serious cuts to essential services if legislators in Austin approve a new cap on property tax revenue increases. "It's a major concern for mayors," Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. Bills currently filed in the Texas House and Senate could put a 2.5% cap in place for cities.   view article arw

Days after local officials praised Motiva Enterprises for an announced investment in downtown Port Arthur, the school superintendent accused the company of trying to shortchange the struggling public school system by not paying its "fair share" in property taxes. "I feel that Motiva has breached the social contract that companies like Motiva made with this community so long ago," Superintendent Mark Porterie said in a 1,400-word op-ed piece published in Saturday's Enterprise. view article arw

As a former mayor, five-term state senator and champion of limited government, state Sen. Robert Nichols was familiar with the Texas property tax code.  But in 2016, in a visit with a local appraiser, the Jacksonville Republican was surprised to learn there was something strange happening on properties across central Texas. view article arw

A Plano ISD tax deal with technology company Texas Instruments could result in $20 million in payments to the district over a decade. The PISD board of trustees on April 9 will consider entering into a 10-year tax agreement with Texas Instruments regarding the company’s manufacturing facility expansion project. The company has proposed over $3 billion in investments for the expansion project, which were detailed in the company’s state application. The agreement would limit the taxable value of the expansion project to $100 million per year for 10 years. In that time, the company would send $2 million per year to PISD, according to district documents. view article arw

You might say it was Paul Bettencourt’s moment.  On a brisk January morning, just weeks into the legislative session, the Republican state senator from Houston arrived at a press conference to help unveil one of the governor’s top priorities, a sprawling property tax proposal that would change the appraisal process and impose a new election trigger allowing voters to approve major increases in tax levy. Senate Bill 2 had his name on it, and it was headed, the next week, for the committee he chairs.  Of the five Republican men at the table — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and state Rep. Dustin Burrows, Bettencourt’s House counterpart — Bettencourt looked the least like a politician. The other four wore crisp white shirts — two red ties, two green — and Bettencourt was in a blue sweater. All five men looked pleased. But Bettencourt was positively jolly. view article arw

It’s that time of year when Tarrant County residents nervously check their mailboxes to see how much their residential property values went up.Jeffrey Law, Tarrant County’s chief appraiser, said 600,000 notices were sent out on March 28. It is too early to give a breakdown of appraisals by city or school district but most will see increases.  “It is very early to say at this point, but I estimate overall values for Tarrant county to be up 7-10 percent,” Law said via email. “While some individual property values may have substantially larger percentage increases, others may see lower increases.” view article arw

More than a year after Hurricane Harvey hit the Greater Houston area, Katy ISD’s financial department has estimated the direct costs to the district from the flooding event. KISD Chief Financial Officer Chris Smith and KISD Business Manager Anne Faichtinger presented a report of these figures the board of trustees at its March 25 meeting. However, Smith stressed the full cost of the disaster may never be known. According to the report, KISD’s damage claims—which included damages, emergency protective measures and shelters, Faichtinger said—totaled $30.3 million. view article arw

Trustees for Kilgore ISD got some bad financial news Monday that’s on its way to taxing entities across Texas. A long-running tax lawsuit that’s been finalized by the Texas Supreme Court orders schools, cities, counties and other taxing entities to refund taxes paid on property worth billions statewide. view article arw

As of Monday, the Wichita County Tax Office has taken over the accounts of the City View Independent School District. The county office will now be in charge of the approximately 2,664 accounts for the school district. The move means City View residents will not have to make tax payments at two separate locations. view article arw

As state leaders promote their property tax reform package as needed relief for everyday Texans, some Democrats and county appraisers suggest a provision in the tax code has stacked the system in favor of corporations that can appeal their valuations with a combativeness most homeowners can’t muster. At issue: a 1997 amendment, drafted by a prominent tax attorney, that critics say has allowed business and industry to lower their property tax burden at the expense of other taxpayers. The provision offers all Texans a way to fight their appraisals by arguing they were treated unfairly compared to other properties. But critics say large property owners have capitalized on it to drive down their costs, while residences and small businesses can’t afford to do the same. view article arw

Two years after the Texas Legislature failed to pass bills to reform the state’s property tax system, lawmakers have proposed two similar bills in the 86th session that would lower the cap on how much cities and counties can increase their revenue from property taxes over the previous year. Under existing state law, cities and counties can receive an increase in property tax revenue of up to 8 percent from the prior year—called the rollback rate—without needing voter approval. However, the new legislation—Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2—would lower that cap to 2.5 percent. The Senate Property Tax Committee passed SB 2 Feb. 11, and the measure is now heading to the full Senate. view article arw

Interesting read! - js - ELGIN - Although barely 25 miles from one of the country’s fastest growing cities, much of the land hugging this Austin bedroom community remains empty blackland prairie. Small farmhouses dot the dark soil fields that unroll into the horizon. Soon, though, if all goes according to plan, a Canadian company will begin installing a vast array of solar panels across 1,000 acres just a few miles outside of town.  But only under one condition: that it receives a multi-million-dollar tax break from the local school district.  Property taxes represent the biggest operating expense for solar projects. So without the giant reduction of its tax bill, Recurrent Energy warned, itsexecutives would be forced “to look to maximize their investment by building in California.” view article arw

Two years after the Texas Legislature failed to pass legislation reforming the state’s property tax system, lawmakers have filed similar bills that would lower the cap on how much cities and counties can increase their revenue from property taxes from the previous year before needing voter approval. Under existing state law, taxing districts can receive an increase in property tax revenue of up to 8 percent from the prior year—which is called a rollback rate—without needing voter approval. However, the new legislation—Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2—would lower that cap to 2.5 percent. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott identified back in January property tax reform and school finance reform as emergency items, thankfully. Members of the North Texas Commission hope to see legislators solve these problems by boosting the state's contribution for public education and pay for full-day prekindergarten while addressing rising property taxes. Our members support House Bill 3 to address these concerns. view article arw

Repost!  A year after the Texas Supreme Court ruled the taxable value of heavy equipment inventory such as natural gas compressors should be counted based where the owner is located, Beckville ISD is receiving judgements for how many refunds they are going to have to issue to individual companies.  So far Beckville ISD has received judgments for six companies they will have to issue refunds to. Those refunds total $148,522.02, with $9,570,490 in total value lost, officials said Monday. view article arw

A panel of House budget writers gave initial approval Monday to a budget that would spend $115 billion in state funds, including a $9 billion infusion of new funds for Texas public schools and property tax relief. Now that the House Appropriations Committee has approved the 2020-21 spending plan, House Bill 1, the legislation moves to the floor of the 150-member House. “I believe that we can all be very proud of the bill that you’ve all worked so hard on,” state Rep. John Zerwas, a Richmond Republican and the chamber’s chief budget writer, told fellow House Appropriations Committee members. view article arw

The tax bill for an average Dallas County homeowner jumped 55 percent from 2013 to 2018 — and 15 percent in the past year. That’s an increase of more than $1,900 in just six years. But Dallas isn’t alone. Property tax hikes are affecting people across the state, pushing vulnerable Texans out of homeownership and taking a toll on small-business owners in fast-growing cities. Lawmakers have boldly promised that this year, they will deliver taxpayer relief. But what would that amount to for the average homeowner in North Texas? view article arw

It’s no secret that the Texas economy is booming. The Lone Star State leads the nation in everything from job creation and economic growth to oil production and technology exports. Unfortunately, Texas is also among the national leaders in a less desirable category—property taxes. Lubbock is no exception. In fact, the city of Lubbock’s property tax collections increased by 75 percent from 2008-2017. view article arw

WHITTON — David Dunagan and his wife, Lori, moved to this East Texas ranching community two years ago to escape the bright lights of Dallas, finding peace on a back patio overlooking the emptiness of rolling grasslands dotted by grazing cattle and deer.  What they didn’t count on was one of the fastest growing industries in the state choosing a location that would blot the pastoral landscape and upset their vision of a bucolic lifestyle. view article arw

So after Gov. Greg Abbott’s tweet last weekend putting down local officials over property taxes and school finance, the question arises: Is Gov. Abbott stupid or does he just think McLennan County Judge Scott Felton is stupid?  Likely neither. I suspect the governor is counting, rather, on the stupidity of everyday Texans still fuming over property-tax bills who haven’t taken the trouble or time to educate themselves on the tangle of complexities in school finance and property taxes. Attentive Trib readers know (or should know) better, but others will go off half-cocked in assigning blame. view article arw

Do you think the connection between property appraisals, property taxes and the property tax rate are hard for citizens to understand? Listen to what a former state legislator, who authored and advocated for a revenue cap bill years ago (and who’s now a county judge in Southeast Texas) recently said about this. “Our county’s property tax rates have held steady for years, and the increase in our property tax revenue is due to rising appraisal values. The Legislature should consider appraisal value reform, rather than the rollback issue. Although it sounds like lowering the rollback rate is what we need to do, the results will always be the same. You’ll write a larger check each year for property taxes. Appraisal reform is what needs to take place, not a rollback tax rate plan that essentially offers no property tax relief for my county’s citizens.” view article arw