Clear Creek ISD's fiscal year 2024-25 budget is expected to have a shortfall of $13.4 million as well as a tax rate decrease of about 0.8%. At a work session meeting June 6, district officials said they are projecting about $386 million in revenue for FY 2024-25. This would be about a $2.2 million decrease from FY 2023-24, according to district documents. view article arw

Additionally, Molly Cook will fill the remainder of Mayor John Whitmire’s term in the state senate. Republicans led in Harris County’s first election for Appraisal District Board with Kyle Scott (Place 2) and Ericka McCrutcheon (Place 3) both coming in first in their respective races and now heading into a runoff. In Place 1, Republican Bill Frazer came in behind former Houston ISD Trustee Kathy Blueford-Daniels who just avoided a runoff with 50.35 percent of the vote. Scott led his opponent 46 percent to 24 percent and McCrutcheon came in ahead at 41 percent to 21 percent. All three candidates were endorsed by the Harris County Republican Party while the Republican Party of Texas endorsed Frazer and Scott but not McCrutcheon. Scott, who was most recently the Republican nominee for County Treasurer, also carried the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle. The races for Place 2 and 3 are now headed into a June 15 runoff. view article arw

A chance meeting between a hobbyist beekeeper and a legislative aide for a rookie state lawmaker led to the creation of the “bee bill” over a decade ago. Since then, the Texas beekeeping boom has exploded demand for beekeeping classes for landowners who qualify for the tax break. The story goes like this: Dennis Herbert, a retired wildlife biologist who oversaw natural resources and managed recreational hunting and other wildlife at a Texas military base met Andrea Williams McCoy, the chief of staff for a newly elected state representative, at an art store he happened to run. One thing led to another, and they started talking about bees, Herbert said. McCoy raised bees as a girl with her father in Texarkana, and was shocked when Herbert said bees weren’t on the list of agricultural uses that give Texans a break on their property taxes. He argued it would be more fair to beekeepers, whose bees pollinate crops. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she remembered thinking, surprised that beekeepers didn’t qualify for tax reductions already. “You couldn’t even have agriculture without beekeeping.” McCoy took the idea back to her boss, Texarkana Republican state Rep. George Lavender. She pitched the bill as fitting his rural, agricultural district. He then explained it to some of his constituents, who supported the idea. Lavender figured beekeepers “deserved the same break everybody else got” since bees pollinate plants, he said. Lavender then filed the bee bill, which set a minimum of five acres and left it up to local regions to determine how many hives would be required because local ecosystems are so varied. view article arw

Harris County voters will head back to the polls today for the third time in less than two months. This time they will be voting in a runoff election to decide who will sit on the Harris Central Appraisal District, a board that oversees the local appraisers who are partly responsible for determining property tax bills. Though one of the three HCAD seats was won outright in May, a runoff election was triggered when no candidate won at least 50% of the vote in the other two races. Early voting locations will be open from June 3 through June 11, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. – except on Sunday, when the hours are 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. – while election day locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. view article arw

Northwest ISD may soon be forced to cut programs and reduce teacher hiring. Without additional funds, the district faces a $14 million deficit in its 2024-25 budget, Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Pastusek told trustees during a May 6 board meeting. Superintendent Mark Foust and board President Steve Sprowls aren’t confident that the Texas Legislature will provide those funds come 2025. “Texas is sitting on a surplus of funds, and because (legislators) let the politics of private school vouchers get involved in the mix with public school funding, funding never got passed,” Sprowls said. In a bid to overcome escalating financial challenges, Northwest ISD is considering placing a measure on the Nov. 5 ballot to increase the district’s property tax rate. If approved, the initiative would secure $15 million in additional funding, Pastusek said. “Our goal is to continue providing excellent educational experiences and staff support without compromising our financial stability,” he said. Weekend Worthy (728 x 90 px).png Northwest ISD officials are discussing raising one of two smaller rates that form the overall property tax: view article arw

Liberty Hill ISD may ask voters to approve an increase to the district’s tax rate for fiscal year 2024-25. District officials discussed the revenue for the district and the cost to taxpayers associated with various tax rate increases during a budget workshop at a May 6 special meeting. The district is projecting a $5 million budget shortfall for FY 2024-25 and a $2 million shortfall this fiscal year, Chief Financial Officer Rosanna Guerrero said. view article arw

Texas homeowners have long had a springtime ritual: checking the latest appraised value of their property with dread, assuming that the new value alone will drive up their tax bill. Now, voters will have more direct say in who runs the obscure agencies that oversee the property appraisal process that plays a major role in individual property taxes and the revenues local governments collect to fund operations and public services. For the first time Saturday, voters in some of the state’s largest counties will elect some of the board members for local appraisal districts, whose employees ultimately determine how much property is worth for tax purposes. Until now, those boards have been made up of the county tax assessor-collector, who is also elected, and members appointed by local taxing districts like cities, counties and school districts. The new state law requires appraisal district boards to have nine members. The tax assessor-collector will hold one seat, appointed members will hold five and those elected by voters will hold three. Elected members will serve four-year terms. view article arw

Three Democratic Party-backed candidates won the first-ever elections to the Travis Central Appraisal District's board of directors Saturday, according to the unofficial results from the Travis County clerk's office. Securing election to the nonpartisan positions were Jett Hanna for Place 1, Shenghao “Daniel” Wang for Place 2 and Dick Lavine for Place 3. The nine-member board — only three of whom are now elected — hires the district's chief appraiser, approves the appraisal district's budget, approves contracts and sets general policies, according to the district's website. The early and mail-in vote results released shortly after the polls closed Saturday evening showed each of the Travis County Democratic Party's endorsees holding solid leads over the Republican and third party challengers — a trend that held throughout election day. Hanna, Wang and Lavine were all elected by wide margins, with each race getting about 51,000 ballots cast. view article arw

In the state’s larger counties, voters can now elect people to the agencies that appraise property values.  Texas homeowners have long had a springtime ritual: checking the latest appraised value of their property with dread, assuming that the new value alone will drive up their tax bill.  Now, voters will have more direct say in who runs the obscure agencies that oversee the property appraisal process that plays a major role in individual property taxes and the revenues local governments collect to fund operations and public services. view article arw

Texas has spent billions of dollars to drive down property taxes. Many homeowners saw a significant tax cut last year, per a Texas Tribune analysis.  A longtime homeowner in McAllen. A senior living in southeast Austin. The owners of a home in a quickly gentrifying Dallas neighborhood.  Each saw a sizable cut in their property tax bill in 2023 after the Texas Legislature funneled billions of dollars into tax cuts, according to a Texas Tribune analysis.  For the past five years, Republican lawmakers have been on a crusade to rein in the state’s property taxes, among the highest in the nation. Last year, they went big with a $12.7 billion package comprised of tax breaks for homeowners and money for school districts to drive down how much they collect from property owners, which usually represents the biggest portion of Texans’ property tax bills. view article arw

A longtime homeowner in McAllen. A senior living in southeast Austin. The owners of a home in a quickly gentrifying Dallas neighborhood. Each saw a sizable cut in their property tax bill in 2023 after the Texas Legislature funneled billions of dollars into tax cuts, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. For the past five years, Republican lawmakers have been on a crusade to rein in the state’s property taxes, among the highest in the nation. Last year, they went big with a $12.7 billion package comprised of tax breaks for homeowners and money for school districts to drive down how much they collect from property owners, which usually represents the biggest portion of Texans’ property tax bills. For many homeowners, those efforts resulted in significant tax breaks. view article arw

For the first time, Travis County voters have a say in who should fill three open seats on Travis Central Appraisal District’s board of directors. The board is responsible for hiring the chief appraiser, who determines property values in the county. Taxing entities, such as the city of Austin, Travis County and school boards, set tax rates that are applied to those property values. The board also approves the annual budget, approves contracts and sets general policies. Starting next year, board members will take on a new responsibility appointing members of the Travis Appraisal Review Board, or ARB, an impartial group of residents that mediate disputes between property owners and the appraisal district, according to TCAD. view article arw

The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with the Texas Education Agency over a 2022 complaint that accused the latter of not providing appropriate accommodations to a teacher taking a reading certification exam, the federal department announced Wednesday. The settlement requires the TEA to allow testers with dyslexia or dysgraphia to use alternative exam arrangements, such as text-to-speech technology, when taking a reading certification exam. The Justice Department opened the case after receiving a complaint alleging that the TEA had violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act in administering a Science of Teaching Reading exam, a regular test for issuing certain teaching certifications. view article arw

MESQUITE, Texas — The U.S. Marshals Service North Texas Fugitive Task Force arrested a Mesquite ISD teacher on Wednesday accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student. The suspect, 32-yearold Cesar Jimenez, was a teacher in the automotive program at Vanguard High School. In a statement on Tuesday, Mesquite ISD said Jimenez had resigned from his position after learning of the district's concerns and the police investigation.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s fantasy of abolishing property taxes would set the state up for financial failure and end public education as we know it by placing a greater burden on low- and medium-income Texans.  The most powerful man in Texas politics wants you to believe he’s looking out for homeowners, but there’s always an unacknowledged goal for significant initiatives like this one. You need only look at who deposited $3 million in Patrick’s campaign account and who gave the record $6 million donation to Gov. Greg Abbott to boost private religious schools. view article arw

No one in the crony establishment—not the bureaucrats, lobbyists, or media shills—likes it when people have the temerity to start asking questions. We’re just supposed to accept the dictates of the status quo without question. As an example, consider the unhinged diatribe of leftwing columnist Chris Tomlinson opining against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s charges to the Texas Senate for study over the eight months until the start of the 2025 regular legislative session. In particular, Tomlinson was horrified that Patrick asked the Senate to establish and report on the cost of eliminating: o School maintenance and operation property taxes; o All school property taxes; and o All property taxes. view article arw

Voters in Texas counties with a population of 75,000 or more will elect three new members to their appraisal district board of directors.  On May 4, many Texans will have their first opportunity to elect representatives to the governing boards of their local appraisal districts, making the agencies that assess property values for tax purposes more accountable to citizens.  A new property tax relief law, passed last year and approved in November by voters statewide, included a provision for voters in counties with a population of 75,000 or more to elect three new members to their county appraisal district board of directors.  The three elected board members will serve alongside the five appointed directors and the county tax assessor-collector, who will become an ex-officio board member.  Directors elected in May will take office on July 1 and serve a term that expires on December 31, 2026. view article arw

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wants to move vendor contracting authority after a new report from the County Auditor highlighted several long-running issues.  Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wants to change the way the county contracts with vendors after a new report from the County Auditor highlighted several long-running deficiencies.   The audit found that in departments like Engineering, Toll Road Authority, and Flood Control, there was little documentation on bidder selection—and whether county employees selecting vendors had conflicts of interest disclosures on file—and no formal policy requiring personnel involved in selection to even document conflicts. The audit shows the issue dates back to 1977.   In response, Hidalgo held a press conference during which she urged the four county commissioners to relinquish control of contracting to the purchasing department. view article arw

It’s mid-April, which means homeowners across Texas are starting to receive notices of their property’s new appraised value in the mail. As a state without income tax, Texas relies heavily on property taxes. Rising home values result in rising tax payments later, and one way to save money is to protest the appraisal value with the county appraisal district. Is it worthwhile to protest your appraisal value? Are there any drawbacks? Here’s what Houston-area experts have to say. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas — After months of delay, a plan to cut your property taxes is on the fast-track. On Wednesday, the Texas Senate passed a key portion of an $18 billion package that would help both homeowners and businesses.  What You Need To Know  On Wednesday, the Texas Senate passed a key portion of an $18 billion package that would help both homeowners and businesses  While Democrats joined Republicans in passing the bills, they raised concerns about a lack of new money for schools  One even criticized House leadership for removing a Senate-backed amendment to give teachers a bonus, which  Republicans say that will be addressed in the next special session  The full property tax relief package is expected to be voted on and sent to Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday  While Democrats joined Republicans in passing the bills, they raised concerns about a lack of new money for schools. One even criticized House leadership for removing a Senate-backed amendment to give teachers a bonus. Republicans say that will be addressed in the next special session view article arw

With budget challenges ahead, the Austin Independent School District (AISD) is focused on which positions it can eliminate. District leaders gave the community and Board of Trustees a preliminary 2024-25 budget with a potential $60 million deficit looming. During Thursday night's meeting, Austin ISD officials said their first goal is to reduce and cut expenditures by $30 million. While the cuts would not lead to a balanced budget, officials said it would get them closer to where the district feels "comfortable." view article arw

During a school board meeting the Beaumont Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to file a lawsuit against the Texas Comptroller's Office to appeal the 2022 property value study. view article arw

A booming petrochemical buildout on the Gulf Coast has drawn billions of dollars in public subsidies from state tax abatement programs despite regular violations of pollution permits, according to a new report released Thursday. The Environmental Integrity Project, an environmental nonprofit based in Texas and Washington, D.C., compiled data on all U.S. plastics projects built, expanded or proposed since 2012, almost all of them along the Gulf Coast. The report identified 50 plastics complexes built or expanded in the last 12 years, 33 of them in Texas, where they have drawn a total of $1.65 billion in property tax breaks through the state’s Chapter 313 program for energy and manufacturing companies, which the state legislature replaced last year with a new but similar program. view article arw

COLEMAN, Texas — Coleman ISD could lose up to $500,000 in state funding this year. The State Comptroller on all school district property values recently released its report for the Property Value Study conducted for Coleman ISD. The results from that study estimates the school district will lose $500,000 in lost revenue for 2024. State law requires values to be at least 95% of sales prices but the report shows values are much lower than that requirement. The Coleman County Central Appraiser, Eva Bush, said the state's appraisal of the district came in higher than her appraisal which resulted in the shortfall. view article arw

COLLEGE STATION (Texas Real Estate Research Center) – Texas’ housing market slowed in February after persistently low mortgage interest rates contributed to record sales in the existing-home sector the previous month. "Sales activity was greatly hindered by February’s unseasonably wintery weather that caused power outages and water disruptions across the state," said Dr. Luis Torres, research economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University. Existing-homes sold through the Texas Multiple Listing Services declined 16 percent from January, drawing even with year-ago levels. Despite slower sales, the state’s existing-home inventory fell below 1.5 months in February. The number of new listings that hit the market declined for the second straight month to their lowest reading since April 2020, when the state was under a stay-at-home mandate. view article arw

Texas makes mess of taxes

May 1607:45 AM
 

Count on the Texas Legislature to come up with a painfully complicated and inefficient way to repeal a painfully complicated and inefficient tax. Lawmakers deserve praise for targeting the Texas Franchise Tax, but their methods are unsound. The franchise tax, also called the margins or business tax, ranks consistently as one of the worst taxes anywhere in the country. It was the convoluted response to the Texas Supreme Court declaring the public school finance system unconstitutional. Lawmakers had to lower property taxes to comply with the court order, so to find replacement funds they rewrote the franchise tax, what businesses pay for the privilege to operate in our great state. view article arw

The Dallas school board Thursday night voted against putting a tax ratification election before voters this fall. The proposed 13-cent tax hike would have given the district $100 million to fund early childhood education and early college high school programs. The district also wanted to expand a program that pays extra money to top teachers who take jobs in some of the district’s toughest schools. view article arw

Trustees of the Wylie Independent School District proposed a tax rate of $1.13 per $100 of property value for the 2016-17 fiscal year — a tax cut of 2.4 cents — and added more money to the proposed budget for teachers' salaries during Monday's regular board meeting. Trustees conducted their third of three workshops for the 2016-17 budget of $32.340 million and set a special meeting for Monday, Aug. 29, at 6:30 p.m. to receive comments from the public on the budget and tax rate and then consider approval. view article arw

Kilgore ISD tax rate in the air

June 2407:38 AM
 

School trustees in Kilgore began their budget-writing season Monday with an overview of what is and isn’t known about financing the 2014-15 school year. view article arw