Property Taxes

Lowering the current 8% revenue cap (rollback rate) — limiting increases in a county’s overall property tax levy — will restrict counties' ability to provide the efficient and effective government services taxpayers demand.

Lower revenue caps are a one-size-fits-all approach based on the faulty assumption that the need for services is steady from year to year. Local revenue needs often spike above or below proposed revenue limits. These spikes are caused by numerous factors like local growth spurts, declining local or regional economies, receipts of — or reduction in — federal grants, new or modified state and federal mandates, and natural disasters or homeland security breaches.


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Key Points

  • A lower cap attempts a one-size-fits-all solution for counties. This does not work. Commissioners courts—the locally elected governmental bodies—are in the best position to determine the right policy decisions for a county.
  •  A lower cap does not address uncontrollable cost-drivers that affect counties, like unfunded mandates, emergencies and a growth in the demand for services.
  • A lower cap hurts the ability of commissioners courts to spur economic development by diminishing the flexibility to provide economic incentives. The reputation of Texas as the “#1 State to Do Business” depends on the infrastructure built by Texas local government. 
  • A lower cap negatively impacts the fiscal health of counties, resulting in a lower bond rating that ends up costing taxpayers more money.
  • A lower cap does not address the problems caused by a broken appraisal system that causes costly lawsuits and unfairly favors commercial properties at the expense of residential homeowners and small business owners.

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Lamar County officials respond to bill limiting property tax raises

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Bill Whitaker: Property-tax fight exposes state's own hypocrisy

Waco Tribune-Herald, Feb. 16, 2019

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Senate Committee Votes to Send Property Tax Reform Bill to Full Senate

1200 WOAI News Radio, Feb. 12, 2019

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Grieder: Texans deserve fair hearing on property tax proposal

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Other Voices: What Texas editors are saying

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Texas homeowners rejoice, local leaders brace for cuts as property tax cap gets 1st Senate hearing

Dallas News, Feb. 7, 2019

A property tax relief bill that would force local governments and school districts to cap their tax revenue endured its first hurdle Wednesday after hours of testimony from nervous city leaders, who fear tighter budgets, and homeowners giddy about...

Houston area officials oppose Texas Legislature's proposed rollback tax rate

Impact Newspaper, Feb. 6, 2019

Identical property tax reform bills filed in the Texas House and Senate Jan. 31 have support from some high-ranking lawmakers in Austin, but Houston-area officials are worried the proposed measures could limit their ability to increase revenue...

Senators hush critics at first property tax reform hearing

Houston Chronicle, Feb. 6, 2019

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Property tax relief, but only for some: small Texas cities and counties exempted from bill

Dallas News, Feb. 5, 2019

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Public testimony on property tax bill set for Wednesday

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Editorial: Governor's property-tax reform bill could impact streets, public safety

Wace Tribune-Herald, Feb. 2, 2019

When pressed about state leaders’ concerted effort to legislate tighter revenue caps on cities, counties and school districts, Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver expressed not only grave disappointment but the fact local control has long been championed as a...

Lawmakers unveil tax reform plan

Texarkana Gazette, Feb. 2, 2019

Taxing entities, including local school districts, would have to get permission from voters to raise property taxes more than 2.5 percent annually under identical legislation filed in both chambers this week...

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick: Statement on Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2

The Gilmer Mirror, Feb. 1, 2019

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen today to announce the filing of two identical property tax reform bills in the Texas Senate and the Texas House...

State GOP leaders seek to limit property tax increases

Statesman, Feb. 1, 2019

The top three power-brokers at the Capitol — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton — announced Thursday they had agreed on legislation that would place strict limits on how much school districts, cities and counties can raise taxes...

Senator Bettencourt files Senate Bill 2 — The Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act

Texas Insider, Feb. 1, 2019

Today Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and Speaker Bonnen announced that Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) filed Senate Bill 2, the Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act. Representative Burrows (R-Lubbock) filed the identical bill in the house...

Texas leaders' proposal would set lower cap to trigger property tax vote; local officials skeptical

Waco Tribune-Herald, Jan. 31, 2019

Flanked by the state’s top legislative leaders, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced that both chambers of the Texas Legislature will push to curb property tax growth by limiting how much money local governments collect without voter approval...

City, school officials respond to Texas leaders' united front on a proposal to cap property tax revenues

Impact Newspaper, Jan. 31, 2019

State lawmakers are proposing a 2.5 percent cap on property tax revenue growth with identical bills filed in both legislative chambers...

Texas leaders want voters to OK property tax revenue growth over 2.5 percent. They couldn't get 4 percent in 2017.

The Texas Tribune, Jan. 31, 2019

The leaders of both legislative chambers say they will be united this year — even if cities and counties push back — and that local officials should come to Austin with solutions in hand if they don't like new proposals...

Governor, top Texas state leaders settle on property tax plan as others raise alarms

Houston Chronicle, Jan. 31, 2019

The three most powerful players in state government declared their unified support Thursday for an aggressive plan to place a 2.5-percent limit on property tax hikes enacted by school districts, cities and counties...

Critics say bill filed to limit property tax increases will have unintended consequences

News 4 San Antonio, Jan. 31, 2019

Texas' top leaders say they have a plan to provide property tax relief to homeowners. Two identical bills, House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 2, were filed Thursday morning. The bills would keep taxing entities from raising taxes more than 2.5 percent a year...

Property tax relief is directly tied to school funding

My San Antonio, Jan. 30, 2019

 

If Gov. Greg Abbott is serious about lowering property taxes for Texans, he will need to do better than the latest plan he has offered. This plan takes bad ideas from the last legislative session and amplifies them. It targets cities and counties, and fails to adequately address school finance...

Carrollton officials staying positive about legislative session

CarrolltonLeader, Jan. 30, 2019

 

The 86th Texas Legislative session is in progress and while several issues are on the table for discussion, Carrollton officials remain positive that legislators will make good decisions...

'Skyrocketing property taxes' are a problem for many Texans, but will Gov. Abbott's plan help?

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Analysis: Texas' school finance problem in one pesky chart

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An editorial from Bennett Sandlin, of the Texas Municipal League, that succinctly discusses many of the issues that both cities and counties have with revenue caps.

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The Texas Tribune, Oct. 24, 2016

 

As property values increase, the state will spend less on schools as more of the districts’ funding comes from increases in local property taxes. State officials, who set up this process, can then blame local officials for increasing local taxes while patting themselves on the back for holding down state taxes.

Mayor Turner Calls for End of Property Tax Revenue Cap, More Police

Houston Business Journal, May 5, 2016

 

Houston Mayor Turner called for an end to the controversial property tax revenue cap in 2017 in order to fund needed city services including hiring additional police officers.

Arbitrary caps deny local governments flexibility

Salado Village Voice, April 8, 2016

 

Since Texas is heavily dependent on property taxes to fund local government and public education, rates here are higher than in states which rely more heavily on other sources of revenue...

Houston's Credit Downgraded by Second Ratings Agency

Houston Chronicle, March 21, 2016

 

Citing the city’s unfunded pension liability, exacerbated by the 2004 voter-approved revenue cap and low oil prices, Standard & Poor’s joins Moody’s in downgrading Houston’s credit rating.

Moody's Downgrades Houston's (TX) GOLT to Aa3; Maintains Negative Outlook

Moody’s, March 16, 2016

 

Moody's Investors Service downgraded the City of Houston's (TX) general obligation limited tax rating (GOLT) to Aa3 from Aa2, affecting approximately $3 billion in previously issued bonds. Suggested removing the city’s revenue cap as one factor that could improve the negative rating outlook.

Have property taxes gone up, really?

Center for Public Policy Priorities, March 14, 2016

 

Compares the long-term growth in property taxes with that of total personal income and explains why total personal income is a better measuring stick than median household income.

Patrick’s Bexar property tax analysis is faulty

San Antonio Express News, Feb. 21, 2016

 

Bexar County Judge Wolff explains why Lt. Gov. Patrick’s claim that there was a 62 percent increase in the property tax levy of Bexar County from 2005 to 2014 is misleading. Judge Wolff notes that the state budget increased by 74 percent over the same time period.

Time to reduce local government revenue cap

San Antonio Express News, Feb. 1, 2016

 

Lt. Gov. Patrick claims county property taxes increased 62 percent from 2005 to 2014 and compares that to a 26 percent increase in median household income. He concludes by promising that “the Texas Senate will act on [property taxes] during the 2017 legislative session.”

PolitiFact: Texas property taxes high, but burden varies

Austin American-Statesman, Jan. 27, 2016

 

Analysis reveals that 81.6 percent of local tax revenue comes from the property tax, in part because Texas does not have an income tax. However, the analysis also determines that while Texas may have higher property taxes, the overall tax burden is very low compared to other states.

Tab to Texas tax[p]ayers for Twin Peaks could top $500,000

San Antonio Express News, Sep. 22, 2015

 

McLennan County alone expects to apply initially for up to $270,000 in criminal justice funds from the governor’s office to help offset costs associated with the Twin Peaks shootout and its aftermath.

Op-ed: Houston finances not in turmoil

Houston Business Journal, Aug. 7, 2015

 

Houston’s mayor responds to an article in the Houston Business Journal pronouncing the City of Houston “on the brink of a financial crisis” following the issuance of a negative outlook from Moody’s due to concerns about pensions and the City’s voter-approved revenue cap limitations.

Ron Paul: Jasper County raised taxes to pay for a death penalty case

Austin-American Statesman, July 11, 2015

 

Investigation of a statement by Ron Paul that Jasper County raised taxes by 7 percent in a single year just to pay for a capital murder trial in the late 1990’s.

Impact of a 4 percent Rollback Rate

County Issues, April 2, 2015

 

Let’s take a look at the effects and unintended consequences a four percent rollback rate would have on both counties and property owners.

Waco leaders say property tax legislation would tie hands

WacoTrib.com, March 8, 2015

 

Local government leaders are raising a red flag about proposed legislation that could further limit their ability to raise revenue.

A View from West Texas: What’s Happening to Local Control Republicanism?

West Texas Drive, March 1, 2015

 

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, the Texas Republican revolution forged west of I-35 and up the Caprock to limit government and entrust us to govern ourselves (as well as to implement term limits, but that’s a subject for another time).

Legislators busy tallying cost of tax cuts

San Antonio Express News, Feb. 14, 2015

 

Tax cuts promised by top Republican leaders are running into the hard reality of billions of dollars in competing needs for transportation, education, border security...

Property tax rate cap elicits opposition from county, cities

The Texas Way, Jan. 12, 2015

 

Property tax rate cap elicits opposition from county, cities...