With budget talks officially starting this week, the Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees are weighing possible increases to its property tax rate.  Trustees on Monday explored a 5-cent and 9-cent rate increase as they brace for a potential shortfall in state funding in what is shaping up to be a tight year for lawmakers in Austin.  And school choice legislation, which could use public education dollars to send students to private schools, also has the district concerned.  “If the state doesn’t come through to give us the aid we need, we have to keep our options open,” said Amarillo ISD Chief Financial Officer Pati Buchenau, who supplied trustees with budget projections. view article arw

Seeing no sign of increased public education funding from the state in fiscal year 2017-18, Fort Bend ISD officials are considering changing the district’s tax rate. At Monday’s board meeting, trustees will hear more on a proposed net 2 cent tax “swap and drop” to generate more property tax revenue for FBISD. view article arw

Growth dominated two state of the region speeches delivered Tuesday by Bell County Judge Jon Burrows and Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra. The judge and mayor discussed growth and other happenings in their areas at an event hosted by the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce at the Grace Christian Center, 1401 Elms Road. “The growth has been tremendous,” Burrows said while discussing Bell County’s population. Between 2000 and 2010 the county grew by 30 percent. Current estimates Burrows talked about pegged the county’s population at 360,000 people. view article arw

City Council reassigned a small portion of Houston's delinquent tax roll Wednesday from the politically-connected tax giant Linebarger to its higher-performing competitor Perdue, even as some council members questioned why Perdue wasn't receiving a larger slice of the pie. Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins & Mott and Greenberg Traurig, which collects on 13 percent of the city's delinquent tax roll, maintained an 81 percent collection rate this fiscal year, according to the city, compared with Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson's 43 percent collection rate on the remaining accounts. view article arw

(CNSNews.com) - Americans paid a record $540,701,000,000 in property taxes to state and local governments in fiscal 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That was up $16,748,620,000—or about 3.2 percent--from $523,952,380,000 in property taxes (in constant 2016 dollars) that state and local governments collected in fiscal 2015. view article arw

PORTLAND, TEXAS - Exxon Mobil Corp. and its Saudi partner were granted an estimated $1.2 billion in tax breaks over 10 years from a South Texas school board to build a controversial $9.3 billion petrochemical plant just north of Corpus Christi. (paywalled) view article arw

State lawmakers blame local officials for property taxes, while passing futile bills to make it seem like they’re doing something.  Every red-blooded Texan hates property taxes. Count among them Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who advocated for a costly property tax “relief” package last session, and Senator Paul Bettencourt. Bettencourt even held a seven-city listening tour — complete with egregiously misleading statistics — in the interim to allow Texans to vent on the subject. view article arw

Every red-blooded Texan hates property taxes. Count among them Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who advocated for a costly property tax “relief” package last session, and Senator Paul Bettencourt. Bettencourt even held a seven-city listening tour — complete with egregiously misleading statistics — in the interim to allow Texans to vent on the subject. Now Bettencourt says he’s fighting rising property taxes with Senate Bill 2, which passed out of committee on March 16 and could go to a vote in the Senate soon.  view article arw

About 85 percent of the projects that received tax breaks through the Chapter 313 program didn’t need the incentive, according to a new study.  The Texas Economic Development Act, commonly called Chapter 313, was created by the Legislature in 2001 based in part on a typo in a report that showed businesses were choosing to invest in neighboring states with lower property taxes. Chapter 313 is the largest corporate welfare program in the state. It doled out $1.4 billion from 2005 to 2015 and is projected to cost at least $8.5 billion in foregone taxes over its lifetime — money that would otherwise go toward Texas public schools. The program has faced criticism from government accountability groups, which claim that tax dollars are being wasted on companies that would have invested in Texas without the tax breaks. view article arw

Friendswood ISD anticipates it will lose $232,367 in state funding for the 2016-17 school year due to the district’s reclassification as property wealthy by the state, district officials said. The reclassification—and loss of funds—comes after Friendswood residents approved a 9 cent increase to FISD’s tax rate last year. The district called for a special election in September, saying it was necessary to pay a competitive wage to teachers, recruit talent and retain its employees, who were being poached by neighboring districts that offered more enticing salaries. “We made some drastic cuts when the Legislature cut [funding] in 2011. We hired back most of the teacher spots but not the administrative and specialist spots,” FISD Superintendent Trish Hanks said. “Our students were suffering. Our schools were suffering. We wanted to be competitive; we were losing teachers to other districts.” view article arw

At about the same time this week, one set of Texas lawmakers was working on ways to limit the growth of property taxes that fund local governments while another was considering legislation that could cost local governments a lot of money.  On the same day this week that the state’s Senate Finance Committee voted to limit how quickly property taxes can grow without voter approval, a House committee was taking up “sanctuary cities” legislation that would force local governments to enforce federal immigration laws. view article arw

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt says Texans are tired of seeing their property tax bills increase dramatically year after year. But local government officials say his Senate Bill 2 would limit their abilities to raise necessary revenues. A Texas Senate bill taking aim at how much property taxes local governments can collect without voter approval will either offer Texans much-needed relief from rising tax bills or create public safety crises in cities across the state.  Like so many of the local control battles playing out in this year’s Legislative session, the likely result all depends on whom you ask. view article arw

The government offered $2,900 for 1.2 acres near the Rio Grande. If Flores chooses not to accept the offer, the land could be seized through eminent domain.  The week before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Yvette Salinas received a letter she had been dreading for years: legal notice that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to build a border wall on her family’s land near Los Ebanos. The 21-page document, entitled a “Declaration of Taking,” is addressed to her ailing mother, Maria Flores, who owns the property with her siblings. The letter offers Flores $2,900 for 1.2 acres near the Rio Grande. If she chooses not to accept the offer, the land could be seized through eminent domain. “It’s scary when you read it,” Salinas says. “You feel like you have to sign.” view article arw

When it comes to whose hand is in our wallets, who regulates the ride-for-hire companies using our streets, and whether paper or plastic is a choice in our community, we'll take the oppressors we know best — our city councils, school boards, commissioners courts, etc. — over those at the state level. Those local officials drive the same streets, go to the same parks and pools and send their kids to the same schools as their constituents. They have a stake in their communities and their constituents can carve a steak out of them if they don't like how their local officials are running things. But those voters can vote only their state representative and senator out of office. They can't do anything to the other 29 senators or 149 representatives. view article arw

 A bill formed to curb the growth in local property taxes would make some decisions by city councils more difficult to implement. Tuesday morning, a panel of influential senators will hear out the idea. It only takes a stroll through downtown Austin to see the city growing. Rising property values continue to drive up the cost of living here. Lawmakers in town for the legislative session want to lower your bills. Sen. Paul Bettencour, R-Houston, authored the legislation after a statewide tour between the 2015 and 2017 legislative sessions. “You can’t have government grow double digits and not expect to knock taxpayers through the loop, either at their home or at their business.” view article arw

A bill that comes up before a State House Committee today that would cap rising property tax rates has placed conservatives on San Antonio City Council, like north  side Councilman Joe Krier, in the uncomfortable position of opposing a bill designed to give tax relief to citizens, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports. The measure would cap city budget growth, and property tax increases, to 4% a year, and require a public vote if the city wants to hike taxes by any more than that. Krier, who is not running for re-election in May, calls the proposal 'dangerous.' "That kind of cap makes it very difficult for the City to provide the additional police, fire, and other resources we will need as we pick up an estimated 1 million people between now and 2040," Krier said. The City of San Antonio has joined other major cities across the state in opposing the bill, which the Cities claim would unfairly restrict their ability to fund future growth.  Some say it is a response by the overwhelmingly Republican Legislature to 'punish' the state's cities for being strongly Democratic.   view article arw

Peaster ISD voters May 6 will be able to vote on a proposed $9.5 million bond, which includes construction of a football stadium.  In addition to covering the construction cost of a stadium, the bond is expected to cover the cost of start-up equipment for a football program, as well.  Peaster ISD has already hired a coach and will begin a football program for seventh and eighth grade students in the fall, Peaster ISD Board President James Hotopp said.  view article arw

Grassroots America-We The People Executive Director JoAnn Fleming took issue with some local elected officials and re-emphasized her group’s support of property tax reform - which is being called revenue caps. Some local leaders, including Tyler Mayor Martin Heines and Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran, disagree with Senate Bill 2, which would lower the amount local entities could raise taxes without seeking voter approval.“Texas has the 14th most burdensome property tax system in the U.S.,” Fleming said at a Friday news conference. “What that has led to is people losing their homes, and people not truly owning their own homes and a business climate that is dropping in rank. And now I read in the newspaper how some local officials are all atwitter over reforming that system, and giving local voters a bigger say in how much they pay for government.” view article arw

Saying there needs to be more transparency in how property taxes are assessed in Texas, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled legislation Friday that would reduce the maximum increase allowed in taxes on individual properties. HB 15, dubbed the Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act and authored by state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, would reduce the maximum increase in taxes for a property — from 8 percent to 4 percent. The legislation would also require local governments to annually publish a "No New Taxes Rate" — which is the rate that would raise the same amount of money as the previous year — and restrict debt service taxes to debt that has been approved by voters. view article arw

Property-tax reform efforts at the Texas Legislature appeared to get a boost Friday as the House unveiled a plan similar to one already filed in the Senate that would make rollback elections by taxpayers easier and cut the maximum tax increase allowed without an election in half. House Bill 15, filed by House and Ways Means Committee Chairman Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, would drop the maximum increase allowed in a tax rate from 8 percent to 4 percent and would allow for automatic tax rollback elections in which voters could decide whether to go along with a higher rate increase. view article arw

It didn’t feel good, did it? It’s the biggest check you’ll likely write all year. You just paid your property taxes. It’s no longer a matter of if your property taxes went up, it’s how much. Yet this doesn’t have to be the case.Take a second to review your property tax bill and you’ll likely see that the largest portion goes to your school district. In fact, more than half (53.97 percent) of all local property taxes paid by Texas property owners in 2015 were levied by school districts, according to the Texas Comptroller’s most recent Biennial Property Tax Report. view article arw

House Ways and Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen filed the Texas House's property tax reform bill, a measure he said will help Texans keep local governments accountable in setting property tax rates. Saying there needs to be more transparency in how property taxes are assessed in Texas, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled legislation Friday that would reduce the maximum increase allowed in taxes on individual properties.  House Bill 15, dubbed the “Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act” and authored by state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, would reduce the maximum increase in taxes for a property — from 8 percent to 4 percent.  view article arw

Any honest discussion of property tax relief has to include the state’s deeply flawed school finance system.Without talking about school finance, the public is left with lip service for property tax reform. That’s the reality of Senate Bill 2, state Sen. Paul Bettencourt’s ongoing effort to cap city and county property tax revenues. Bettencourt’s bill would cut those increases from as much as 8 percent without a rollback election to 4 percent. view article arw

 North Dakota stands to gain more than $110 million annually in tax revenue after oil begins coursing through the Dakota Access pipeline, an analysis by The Associated Press shows. The calculation shows the potential payoff for a state whose officials have supported the pipeline despite concerns from Native American tribes and other opponents who fear it could harm drinking water and sacred sites. The money the state stands to make in just one year far outstrips the $33 million in costs to police a section of the pipeline that's been the subject of intense and sometimes violent protests over the last year. view article arw

The BISD Board of Trustees were handed some disappointing news at Monday's meeting when Superintendent Lacy Freeman reported that the Leon County Appraisal numbers were out of compliance. The District lost significant funding from the State when the appraisal numbers were out of compliance for three years in a row. view article arw

The Texas oil and gas industry gives, and it takes away.  A report released this morning from the Texas Oil and Gas Association calculated the extraordinary amount of government money generated by the industry. Oil and gas pumped $9.4 billion into government budgets through taxes and royalties in 2016. That adds up to $26 million each day, according to Todd Staples, TXOGA's president.  But Staples also pointed out that these numbers are lower than in past years because of the prolonged slump in oil and gas prices. The prices are up now but haven't recovered to earlier levels.  A year ago, TXOGA reported that the industry paid $13.8 billion to Texas governments, the second highest number ever. This year's figure is down by 32 percent from the previous year and down 40 percent from 2015. view article arw

In a legislative session loaded with bad policy ideas, Sen. Paul Bettencourt’s revenue caps bill is among the worst. Senate Bill 2 would further limit the amount of revenue local governments could raise as property values increase. Under existing law, cities and counties can increase revenue by as much as 8 percent without inviting a rollback election. The Senate bill would reduce that amount to 4 percent. view article arw

If your property taxes are too high, blame the Legislature and the shell game it plays with public school finance.  First, let’s back up. The property tax/school finance intersection is a complicated beast and one that deserves a little unpacking. To start, property taxes are not a state tax; property taxes are paid annually by homeowners and collected by local school districts instead of the state. Even if you don’t own a house, you pay property taxes; a portion of your rent goes toward taxes paid either by landlord or your apartment complex, which is on the hook for the property taxes collected on commercial real estate. view article arw

Home tax breaks done many ways

February 2007:45 AM
 

Denton County’s largest cities take different tacks when taxing single-family homes, a Denton Record-Chronicle analysis has found. The Record-Chronicle conducted the analysis in advance of the May 6 election, which challenges how Denton taxes single-family houses.  view article arw

If your property taxes are too high, blame the Legislature and the shell game it plays with public school finance. First, let’s back up. The property tax/school finance intersection is a complicated beast and one that deserves a little unpacking. To start, property taxes are not a state tax; property taxes are paid annually by homeowners and collected by local school districts instead of the state. Even if you don’t own a house, you pay property taxes; a portion of your rent goes toward taxes paid either by landlord or your apartment complex, which is on the hook for the property taxes collected on commercial real estate. view article arw

Denton ISD discusses budget

February 1707:45 AM
 

Though it won’t be finalized until June, Denton ISD budget talks got underway at Tuesday night’s board meeting. Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Debbie Monschke presented facts and figures delineating the district’s revenue and expenditures over the course of five years. She also went over a tentative schedule if the board decides to call for a tax ratification election in September. view article arw

This session, the Texas Senate has prioritized a bill that purports to ease the property tax burden by limiting the services a city could provide its residents, yet another instance of state lawmakers trying to usurp local control.  And supporters of Senate Bill 2 have found an unlikely enabler in Manuel Medina, a candidate for mayor whose support for the legislation runs counter to the interests of a city he wants to lead.  Mayor Ivy Taylor has an idea why. view article arw

Also at this morning's county commission meeting, leaders adopted a resolution, opposing a Texas Senate bill relating to property tax relief.  Senate Bill 2 (SB-2) would limit annual property tax increases. The bill, if passed, would reduce the 8 percent limit to four percent or lower to call a rollback election. Many local government officials say this puts a restriction on their revenues to finance different needs.    view article arw

Gregg County Appraisal District trustees narrowed their search for a chief appraiser to two candidates Tuesday, one from a family of Texas property appraisers and the other second-in-command at the office in Longview. view article arw

The Hearne ISD school board met Monday night to formally hire Dr. Adrain Johnson as the district's permanent superintendent. The board voted 4-2 to accept the terms of Johnson's contract. The board also discussed the potential of granting a tax abatement to a local rail car company looking to expand. Last month, General American Transportation Corporation, also known as GATX, asked the board to grant the abatement for ten years on the company's new expansion. In return, GATX plans to help students in the district get started in the welding industry. view article arw