What to Know
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said that property tax reform is a priority for this year's legislative session.
- In Collin County, officials have differing opinions as to the best way to continue to bring enough money to serve booming populations.
- The Texas Municipal League said lawmakers first need to reform the state's school finance system in order to tackle property taxes.
This legislative session, state lawmakers are promising to tackle property tax reform. The governor has called it a priority and companion bills in the Texas House and Texas Senate would limit how much cities, counties and school districts could collect in property tax revenue.
The proposals would cap property tax revenue for local taxing entities at 2.5 percent on existing properties over the previous year. If a county, city or school district seeks to take in more than a 2.5 percent increase, voters would be given final approval. The cap would not apply to smaller taxing entities, only those with tax collections of more than $15 million.
Monday, Collin County commissioners approved a resolution showing support for a cap, but other local cities argued a cap is a one-size-fits-all solution that would hurt growing communities.
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Chris Hill, the county judge for Collin County, said a revenue cap would serve as a step toward decreasing the tax burden on homeowners.
"They're getting taxed out of their home," Hill said. "They could afford the mortgage payment they agreed to, but they can't afford the taxes that have risen year after year."
Hill said the county has adopted a no new revenue tax rate for three years and taxpayers are demanding decreases.
"If the elected officials aren't willing to make those hard choices between one expenditure and another, they're offsetting those hard choices on to the taxpayers," Hill said.
But other cities said the cap would have unintended consequences, like limiting police, fire and other services in growing communities.
In Frisco, the city said a cap would save a homeowner with a home value of $453,842 around $67. The city said a 10 percent homestead exemption, approved by the council last year, would save the same homeowner $203.
"Our argument is if you let cities have local control and make decisions for their residents, we can actually deliver more tax reform than they can from Austin," Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said.
The city estimated a cap would equate to a $3.9 million less in the city's budget.
"We're adding 1,000 new residents to Frisco every single month. It's a challenge sometimes to keep up with that growth and all the residents that have been here expect that same level of service," Cheney said.
The Texas Municipal League published a legislative update that said lawmakers have to reform the state's school finance system in order to provide meaningful property tax reform.
"If school finance reform fails this session, and we sincerely hope it doesn't, perhaps some state leaders will no longer think that quickly shifting the focus to cities will provide them any needed political cover from criticism that property taxes are too high," TML's legislative update said.
Most of homeowners' property tax payments are captured by school districts.
"I understand the need for funding infrastructure and schools in a high-growth area, but it seems like a disproportionate amount is placed on the home owner," said Eric Burkes, a homeowner in Frisco.
"If there's a more equitable way to do it, I would certainly be open to that."