“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair  The members of the Texas Legislature are no doubt enjoying their summer recess as millions of Texas homeowners continue their annual trek to the local appraisal district to bargain for relief — any relief — from their spiraling property tax bills. After months of theatrics and discourse about how to best solve the equation of property tax relief and school finance reform, your legislature passed Senate Bill 2, or as they dubbed it — the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019.  Calling the latest end product of the Legislature a transparency act is an insult to every homeowner in Texas who just saw their property tax bills go through the roof. Many bills rose by the 10% homestead cap, and some even more as central appraisal districts catch up with years of asset inflation and peg those properties to market value. view article arw

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s 2019-20 budget includes increased pay for teachers, lower recapture payments and a reduced tax rate. This comes in part to a new school finance law. The GCISD board of trustees approved the $190 million general operating budget June 17. On June 11, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3, which makes changes to the state’s school finance system. Under HB 3, GCISD will receive about $6.9 million total from the state, a decrease of about $967,000 from current law. However, recapture payments will decrease from $63.63 million to $49.21 million. view article arw

Now that Fort Bend ISD’s fiscal year 2019-20 budget is approved, taxpayers will likely see a decrease of about $45 on their annual property tax bill. The FBISD board of trustees approved the budget at its June 17 meeting. The overall budget includes operating revenue of $704.8 million, operating expenditures of $716.9 million, a beginning fund balance of $209.2 million and $10 million in economic stabilization. It expects an ending fund balance of $199.1 million, including a 90-reserve requirement of $176.6 million. The district said it will spend $9,283 per student, which is a 7.8% increase over the 2018-19 school year. view article arw

The Cost of Carve-Outs

June 1808:42 AM

Lawmakers passed an omnibus school finance and property tax reform bill this session, but didn’t include a way to pay for it past 2021. One place to look: corporate tax breaks. Just before Memorial Day weekend, lawmakers inked an $11.6 billion school finance and property tax reform package. The passage of House Bill 3, which includes a boost in state funding for schools, better teacher pay and a massive state buydown of local property taxes, was a kumbaya moment. But there was just one problem. Lawmakers didn’t include a way to pay for it beyond the next two years. view article arw

The results of Saturday’s Wichita Falls ISD tax ratification election passed the proposition. view article arw

The Prairiland ISD Board of Trustees have sided with Paris City Council and Chisum ISD in voting against a request from the Lamar County Appraisal District to purchase the Peoples National Bank building in downtown Paris. The trustees handed down the unanimous decision Monday evening during their monthly meeting. Paris ISD's Board of Trustees also was scheduled to meet tonight and to discuss the matter, but because of a lack of a quorum, the meeting was postponed.  Reno City Council voted in favor of the request last week. view article arw

Voters overwhelmingly approved the Wichita Falls ISD Tax Ratification. The school board is thankful since its passing means additional revenue for the school district. School board President Elizabeth Yeager is glad to see that over 80% of those who voted in the Tax Ratification Election were in favor of the swap and drop. “We’re obviously very pleased with the outcome and look forward to the opportunities the additional revenue will give us to manage our facilities.” Yeager stated during Monday’s school board meeting. view article arw

An Arlington-based political group run on a shoestring is vying for voters’ favor against a new Wichita Falls-based group with a growing war chest in Saturday’s Wichita Falls ISD property tax election. Texans for Freedom Political Action Committee, which has local ties, opposes the school district’s property tax proposition and has recently taken in contributions of nearly $500 from two Wichitans, according to the group’s latest campaign finance report filed with the Texas Ethics Commission. view article arw

Spring ISD teachers, librarians, nurses and counselors can expect a pay raise of $2,250-$3,250 for the 2019-20 school year, following the unanimous approval of Spring ISD’s 2019-20 budget by the board of trustees June 12. Part of the funding for the pay raises is a result of House Bill 3, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott June 11. The bill requires increased compensation for staff as well as school property tax reform. view article arw

Voters in Wichita Falls have passed the Wichita Falls ISD Tax Rate Ratification Election. With 3,499 total votes, 83% voted for while 17% voted against.  The tax ratification election, also known as the “Tax Rate Swap & Drop,” allows the school board to increase the Maintenance and Operation tax rate from $1.04 to $1.17 and be in position to drop the current debt service tax rate of $0.18 to $0.00. This is something school board members say would lower the overall tax rate by $0.05 view article arw

Wichita Falls ISD officials’ property tax proposition will be up for a vote on Saturday. The school district earlier approved calling for a $1.35 tax rate which would not actually be the tax rate but was necessary in order to call a tax rate election. If the proposition passes, the school board would drop the debt service tax rate, which is currently $0.18 to $0, and the maintenance and operation tax rate will increase from $1.04 to $1.17 with the result the state would contribute more money. The tax rate sits at $1.22. view article arw

The nation’s three major credit agencies are warning San Antonio and other Texas cities that a new state law capping property taxes likely will strain their finances, possibly leading to a lower credit rating that would cost taxpayers money. The bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Greg Abbott limits how much additional property tax revenue local governments can coll view article arw

Paris City Council denied the request of Lamar County Appraisal District to purchase the old People's Bank less than 15 minutes into the council's 5:30 p.m. meeting. The Chisum ISD Board of Trustees also unanimously declined the request after meeting briefly this evening in executive session. Also this evening, Reno City Council voted in favor of the purchase. view article arw

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Hundreds have cast their ballot for the Wichita Falls ISD Tax Ratification Election.  Early voting for WFISD’s TRE kicked off last week after Board of Trustees called for the election in May.  WFISD officials tell us as of Wednesday night a total of 886 people have voted.  At Sikes Senter Mall 584 voted and at the WFISD Education Center, 302 voters have cast their ballot. view article arw

n a year when rising property taxes have consumed political attention throughout the state, the Travis Central Appraisal Dis­trict's handling of local taxpayers' assessments is consumed with controversy. Already facing possible litigation over its highly criticized purchase of multiple listing service (MLS) data about home sales, TCAD has decided it will not offer face-to-face informal hearings to any property owners this year. This is a major change from its past handling of appraisal protests, but TCAD hasn't communicated this clearly to the public, or to the consultants who represent property owners, even as formal protest hearings began this week. view article arw

Since the dawn of 2019, we here at your local Chronicle, along with the rest of the Texas press corps, have talked a lot about "revenue caps" as a highlight/lowlight of the Legislative session just past. Whether you see the Lege's handiwork in Senate Bill 2 as a triumph (e.g., Texas Public Policy Foundation) or a tragedy (e.g., Mayor Steve Adler), there's a lot of context and backstory stuffed into that term that deserves to be unpacked for our readers. So herewith, an explainer: view article arw

The Harris County Appraisal District announced Thursday morning it could raise the appraised values for properties damaged during Hurricane Harvey by as much as 21 percent above pre-Harvey levels. Many flood-damaged homes had their appraised values for property tax calculations lowered in 2018 as they repaired their homes.  Now those rates could be raised to their 2017 pre-flood values, plus a 10 percent increase per year, the maximum allowed by state law.  That means a home assessed at $300,000 before sustaining damage could now be assessed at $363,000 two years later  view article arw

Hidden in the education bill on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk is an amendment that could bring welcomed relief to Wise County schools. An amendment from Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) will have the state pay the interest and principle to natural gas companies that school districts are responsible for as a result of a court decision on the taxable value of large leased compressors. Wise County schools were looking to pay back in upwards of $1 million collectively. view article arw

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Early voting for the Wichita Falls ISD Tax Ratification Election began earlier today.  If passed, the maintenance tax would go up by 13 cents and the tax that provides funds for debt payments would drop to zero. Overall, the tax rate would drop by five cents.  However, one group is encouraging people to vote ‘No’ against the tax change. They say that while taxes would be initially lowered if the TRE passes. They are concerned things ultimately will not stay that way for long. view article arw

Teach Plus Texas' Lindsay Sobel: "HB 3 provides substantial new funding for education, strategically allocated to ensure a bright future for our students and the Lone Star State" "Texas students deserve a world class education regardless of their zip code. HB 3 provides substantial new funding for education, strategically allocated to ensure a bright future for our students and the Lone Star State."   view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced Thursday that lawmakers had struck deals on bills to ratchet down property tax increases and boost public education spending — the twin priorities of the legislative session that ends Monday. “On fixing school finance, we are funding districts and education no longer on the wealth of school districts but on the needs of our individual students,” Abbott said. The legislation “also provides much needed property tax relief that has been burdening Texas taxpayers. It provides $5 billion in property tax relief in the first biennium. Future generations of children in Texas will be better off because of the public education reform accomplished this session.” view article arw

Legislation to rein in property tax collections would have slowed the pace of property tax increases in three Central Texas cities had the measures been in place since 2013, but taxes still would have increased every year, an American-Statesman analysis has found. Looking at the city and school district portions of tax bills — the lion’s share of the tax burden — for the average-value home in Austin, Round Rock and Kyle, property taxes would have increased over a five-year period had key provisions of Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 3 been in place. Still, homeowners would have paid less in property taxes than they actually did over that period. view article arw

Fort Bend ISD taxpayers could be heading to the polls again this year to vote on adding more money to the school district’s portion of annual property taxes.  District administration and the board of trustees discussed a possible tax ratification election, or TRE, at the May 13 board meeting. Through such an election, voters would have the chance to decide whether to raise the tax rate. view article arw

Members of the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Council learned that estimated appraisal values for the district will increase a little more than 11 percent this year. The meeting was held in the administration building Wednesday. Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard said this is good news for the district, but Ector County Independent School District won’t get the certified values until July. view article arw

Wichita Falls School Board trustees will be asking taxpayers to approve a Maintenance and Operations tax increase while reducing the tax for debt service in a special June election. This comes after an almost four and a half hour board meeting on Tuesday afternoon. WFISD officials said the main benefit if voters say yes, will be increased financial contributions from the state, money the district could use for facility repairs and other projects that a bond issue could not address. Officials are currently at step four in a five-step plan geared toward school improvement. view article arw

While state legislators duke out the details of bills that would cap property tax revenue growth, Waco area leaders are proceeding with business as usual, having been through this type of uncertainty before. As it stands, Senate Bill 2 requires cities, counties and emergency service taxing districts to gain voter approval before raising 3.5% more property tax revenue than the previous year. Voters may salivate at the thought of the cap, but legislators have said it does not lower anyone’s property taxes, only makes the process more transparent. view article arw

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) - If the Wichita Falls ISD Board of Trustees approves the vote Tuesday, people in the school district could see a tax ratification election next month.  School leaders said this would effectively lower the overall tax rate while pulling a bigger percentage of its budget from the state.  The school district would have a special election asking voters to approve an increase in its maintenance and operating tax rate while reducing the tax for debt services. view article arw

Must read!  AUSTIN -- The House narrowly agreed Thursday to change the Texas Constitution to prohibit a personal income tax, as urged by a Plano lawmaker.  The move came just hours after the chamber passed a bill calling for elimination of the main school property tax in about 2 ½ years.  A study commission studded with legislators would study how to raise consumption taxes to make up for school districts' lost revenue from their maintenance and operation, or M&O, levy. view article arw

The state’s Big Three—Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen—would like to raise the state’s sales tax rate, in order to provide Texas homeowners with property tax relief. Republican legislators haven’t been too enthusiastic about that idea—and most of them were relieved on Tuesday, when House leaders announced that they had decided to postpone voting on a proposal to that effect, from state Rep. Dan Huberty. view article arw

AUSTIN — A plan to increase the state’ sales taxes to among the highest in the nation in order to cut property taxes is dead.  Just four days after Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen expressed confidence they had the votes to do it, the Texas House gave up, postponing any debate on the measure until January 2021, the next time the Texas Legislature meets. view article arw

Texas lawmakers are expected to debate a plan this week that would raise the taxes consumers pay when they go shopping in order to lower the taxes homeowners and business owners pay on their properties. Adding 1 percentage point to the rate of the sales tax, one of the state’s most regressive means of raising funds, would hit poor Texans hardest. But with less than a month left in the legislative session, new data is shedding light on how the proposal would benefit those with higher incomes at the expense of those with lower incomes. view article arw

In July 2018, the Houston-based natural gas midstream company had approached the State of Texas seeking tens of millions of dollars in property tax breaks. Known as Chapter 313, the economic development program was designed to lure to Texas manufacturers seeking to build new facilities. So applicants must convince state regulators they need the tax break to come.  Permico’s problem was that it appeared Texas-bound with or without it. Newspaper and trade articles had described the pipeline it was constructing from the Permian Basin to Corpus Christi, where it would build fractionators to separate out propane, ethane and butane. Funding for the project seemed lined up. view article arw

We start with the double down. Showing their usual united front, the state’s “Big Three” political leaders on Friday tried to remake their case for why the Texas Legislature should deliver on long-term, ongoing property tax relief before the session wraps up this month. They also expressed confidence that they would get the work done — even as House Democrats said they appeared to have the votes to block the lower chamber’s current main vehicle to provide the biggest property tax cut. view article arw

Texas is one of the most diverse states in the country, and Texans have a wide range of differing opinions on topics ranging from abortion to gun control. Yet, when it comes to an increase in the state sales tax to compensate for revenue lost from property tax reform, these diverse Texans are united in opposition. Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen proposed increasing the state sales tax by 1 cent to 7.25 cents. Using data from a University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs survey we examined Texans' views on a sales tax increase based on where they live, age, ethnicity or race, and partisanship. view article arw

Lawmakers moved to apply the state's sales tax to goods sold by remote vendors who don't have physical operations in Texas.  Texans who shop online could soon see purchase prices go up — filling the state treasury by roughly a half-billion dollars over the next two years — thanks to a proposed new sales tax levy on out-of-state sellers.  A pair of bills unanimously advanced by the Texas Senate on Friday would allow the state to collect sales tax on items sold by vendors who do not have a physical presence in Texas. A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. held that such taxes were constitutional. view article arw