Property Tax Relief Plan Draws Local Opposition

Five words that just might be music to your ears… property tax reform and relief.

For Houston State Senator Paul Bettencourt–it’s a mission for the next Legislative Session.

“It’s (property tax bills) gone up 22% to 24% in Dallas-Fort Worth, nearly 20% in San Antonio. The Austin area has had three 12% increases in a row” Bettencourt said in rolling out his reform bill at the State Capitol Tuesday Afternoon, adding “What happens is property tax bills go up much faster than Texans paychecks.”

In fact, Bettencourt said the Lone Star State is near the top of a list it probably doesn’t want any part of–highest property taxes in the United States.

“Texas is fifth now, with an average property tax rate of $2.17 per hundred (dollars) Bettencourt said, ranking the State behind only Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

So how to fix it all? Bettencourt’s bill contains a series of reforms and changes–ranging from setting some uniform dates across the State in the tax calendar–to requiring elected officials make up an appraisal board of directors.

“One of the problems the taxpayers strongly believe in–and they express it every single hearing–is they don’t have any elected representation on the board” Bettencourt said.

In the end though, Bettencourt admitted there’s no sure way to pinpoint exactly how much relief–and savings–the proposed changes might bring to individual property owners around the State.

“This could be modest relief of $30 some odd bucks a year. It could be substantial relief of $200 per year” Bettencourt said, pointing out different areas will see different numbers on the basis of what’s been happening in those areas and specific communities.

Meanwhile, you can count the Mayors of San Antonio, Austin, San Marcos, and New Braunfels among the opponents of State Senator Paul Bettencourt’s plan for property tax reform and relief.

Most specifically, the Mayors of the four “I-35 Corridor” cities said they object to a 4% revenue cap proposal that is part of Bettencourt’s plan. The Mayors said such a cap would severely impact the fast-growing cities ability to provide critical services.

“Texas officials, who often champion limited government, know that government is not one size fits all and should allow municipalities to continue to best represent their constituents” said San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor.

The Mayors believe the cumulative impact of the revenue cap would have cost the four cities about $770-million over ten years.

“If the Legislature really wants to help local taxpayers, it should better fund education because that’s most of the Austin property tax bill” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero said the plan would negatively impact every resident that wants a street repaired and every neighborhood that seeks better police protection.

“Texas cities are thriving and this proposed legislation would stunt the progress we have made” Guerrero said.

New Braunfels Mayor Barron Casteel echoed some similar thoughts.

“As a region, we must work together to address the issues that don’t recognize governmental boundaries” Casteel said.

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