American Heart Assoc.

Opinion: Bills designed to give locals control

by | Feb 7, 2019 | Opinion

It’s a busy time in Austin for state government.

In Texas, an odd numbered year means your state senator and state representative are going to officially spend 140 days at the state capitol shifting through thousands of bills.

Governor Abbott has stated property taxes and school finance reform are among his top priorities this session. That’s good news for all of us. Even better news is that Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, chairman of the Texas Senate, and Rep. Dennis Bonnen, Speaker of the House, agree with Abbott.

The bicameral bodies both filed bills last week to address local taxes, Senate Bill 2 (SB2) and House Bill 2 (HB2). Both bills are designed to increase transparency, address local property tax growth and give citizens more control.

Both have several points that will bring about property tax reform, but I will focus on one. The bills will lower a local taxing entity’s rollback rate.

A rollback rate “provides the taxing unit with about the same amount of tax revenue it spent the previous year for day-to-day operations, plus an extra 8 percent increase for those operations, and sufficient funds to pay debts in the coming year.”

For taxing entities, excluding school districts, the rollback rate is the rate required to generate the same amount of revenue on the same property from year to year, plus eight percent. New construction is not included in this calculation.

Under SB2 and HB2, taxing entities with revenue of over $15 million will not be able to increase revenue from year to year by more than 2.5 percent without having a vote of the people.

Most taxing entities in Collin County will be affected, because most have an annual revenue budget in excess of $15 million.

Collin County Judge Chris Hill has no problem with the Texas Legislature putting a cap on tax revenue increases and on Monday, the Collin County Commissioners Court added its support to the two bills.

What will be interesting is how city councils and school boards of trustees will weigh in on this matter.

In a press release Saturday, Hill indicated he is aware of complaints from across the state, that these two bills violate local control.

That, of course, is nonsense. I agree with Hill’s rebuttal that the “purest form of local control is allowing the constituents to vote on property tax increases, which is exactly the intent of the proposed legislation.”

School districts are already required to get citizen approval through a vote if they exceed their rollback rate. That’s a good thing for citizens because, excluding the debate of how high a rollback rate should be, schools must get voter approval.

All other taxing entities give local citizens have the “ability to petition” for a local election if property tax revenue will increase by over 8 percent.

The “ability to petition” means voters must become proactive to call an election.

For example, 10 percent of registered voters would have to sign a petition to call a rollback election to contest an increase of tax revenues in excess of 8 percent.

That is difficult given historically low voter turnout at local elections.

SB2 and HB2 make things much easier. If total revenue will increase year over year by over 2.5 percent, local taxing entities are required to call an election and let voters decide if they like the increase.

To put this in perspective, property tax payments were due last Thursday. That tax payment may have been paid through your monthly mortgage, or you cut a check for the full amount.

Did you pay more in property taxes on January 31, 2019 than you did on the same property a year ago?

If you want to keep up with state and local government matters that affect your property taxes, watch for more stories in this newspaper.

Need more details on tax rate calculations? If so, go to https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/truth-in-taxation/calculations.php

By Chad Engbrock, Publisher of C&S Media Publications, can be reached at [email protected]

For more opinions and editorials subscribe in print or online.

American Heart Assoc.

0 Comments

Related News

The Lawn Moore

The Lawn Moore

America really is The Land of Opportunity. Even if there’s only one opportunity, and that opportunity is cutting the grass.  Ashdown, Arkansas, was a pretty typical small American town in the 1960s and 1970s.  Kids weren’t just handed things. If we wanted...

read more
A myth understanding

A myth understanding

In the South, we believed with all of our hearts what we were told when we were children. Even if it was wrong. In the 1960s, the RCA color console TV my family had on Beech Street in Ashdown, Arkansas, could make you go blind. It could if you believed what our mom...

read more
On the road again and again

On the road again and again

Back in the 60s, some American college kids protested the Vietnam War, but mostly, they conducted sit-ins. Few protests were violent. Other American college kids would have contests to see how many of them they could cram into a Volkswagen. Today, some college kids...

read more
Aisle be seeing you

Aisle be seeing you

As a child growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, we had two main grocery stores. Shur-Way and Piggly Wiggly. Or as my dad called it, “Hoggly Woggly.” A trip to the store was like each TV commercial had come to life. Advertising agencies at the time were very good at what...

read more
Just plane fun

Just plane fun

My wife and I are scheduled for an Alaskan cruise in the fall. By all accounts, it’s something to which we should look forward. I’ve been told the same thing about other trips, including a Vegas excursion that included a stay at a strip motel that still had beds that...

read more
Fixer Uppers

Fixer Uppers

Recently, I saw something I haven’t seen in many years. A young man driving a car he was fixing up. It was an older Mustang. By older I mean a 90’s model. The car had spots of primer, there were a few dents, and the exhaust system appeared to be loose. By John Moore...

read more
Who’s counting when it comes to columns?

Who’s counting when it comes to columns?

When this newspaper column began in 2014, my wife asked me a question. Wife: “How long do you intend to write this column?” Me: “Oh, I don’t know. I guess I’ll write 500 of them and then hang it up. This column is number 500. By Bob Moore For more stories about the...

read more
Don’t eat that

Don’t eat that

When I was a kid, I had to sneak around if I wanted to eat certain things. Now that I’m an adult and in charge, I still have to sneak around if I want to eat certain things. I miss the days when no one knew anything about gluten, trans fats, cholesterol,...

read more
Texas counties among nation’s fastest growing

Texas counties among nation’s fastest growing

Recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that six of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the United States from 2022 to 2023 were in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune, Kaufman County, just east of Dallas, led the list with a 7.6% increase in new...

read more
Read this. Build a stronger community.

Read this. Build a stronger community.

Saddened. Embarrassed. Determined. These three words evoke distinct feelings and emotions. In the context of an opinion piece we ran in the paper four and a half years ago, they described the aftermath of a community that lost its newspaper. After 130 years in...

read more
Subscribe 300x250 - Love