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County Commissioners Push for Property Tax Reform

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Commissioners passed a resolution on Tuesday, urging the State Legislature to provide significant and meaningful tax relief to Texas individuals, families and businesses. Specifically, local officials asked for immediate property tax relief beyond the adoption of the revenue cap legislation known as Senate Bill 1.

Judge Mark Henry

Senate Bill 1 would require voter approval when larger local governments raise property taxes on existing land and buildings 4-6 percent or more. County Judge Mark Henry called it a step in the right direction, but said it doesn’t go far enough.

“Galveston County taxpayers need relief from the annual property tax assessment increases handed down by the central appraisal district,” Judge Henry said. “With the central appraisal district’s power to increase assessments each year, families in Galveston County are forced to pay higher property taxes even when tax rates hold steady or decrease.”

Over the past seven years Commissioners Court has reduced the county tax rate below the effective rate. Every dollar of new county revenue has been generated from new construction, he said.

“The challenge is, not every taxing entity in the county is focusing on reducing tax rates despite increased assessments,” Henry said. “Taxpayers deserve meaningful reform which focuses on tax rate reductions and holds central appraisal districts accountable to the people.”

Another area officials are urging the Legislature to focus on is fixing the school finance formulas, which are the source of much of the pressure on property taxes. School funding is the biggest piece of the property tax pie, and the slice that keeps getting more expensive, Commissioner Ken Clark said.

Commissioner Ken Clark

Clark also talked about unfunded mandates, which he called the driver of expenses in county government. “With the proposed legislation, it’s important for counties to be protected from unfunded mandates,” he said.

The Texas Legislature closed out the special session Tuesday night deadlocked on property tax reform, after the Senate rejected the House’s version of the bill.

It remains unclear whether Gov. Greg Abbott was open to calling another special session to keep trying on property tax reform.

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