Commissioner Noack stands with State Officials on property tax reform

By: Commissioner James Noack
| Published 02/07/2019

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THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- Property tax growth is killing homeowners and businesses in Texas. Anyone who receives a property tax bill knows they keep growing – far beyond any small, reasonable, or justifiable increase.

Local officials throughout the state are riding a wave of huge appraisal increases and allowing tax bills to rise dramatically without lowering rates. Remember, your tax bill is the product of your appraisal, multiplied by the tax rate. The appraisal may go up or down based upon economic forces in the market that can’t really be controlled. But the tax rate is set each year after the appraisals are determined, so the local taxing entity knows what your actual tax bill will be before they vote.

If your appraisal goes up, local taxing entities should lower the rate. However, that is not what is happening, and millions of taxpayers are seeing 10 percent property tax increases year after year. That’s not right.

Our state leaders, Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen have joined together to bring about real change and real property tax relief. SB2 by Senator Paul Bettencourt and HB2 by Representative Dustin Burrows will force local taxing entities to a modest 2.5 percent growth in their tax revenue one year to the next. If they want to exceed the 2.5 percent rate, it will require a vote of the citizens.
If there is a true need beyond a 2.5 percent tax increase, something the community supports and will rally behind, then a vote of the people should be nothing to worry about. But profligate spending, year after year, is not justifiable or warranted. Right now the taxpayers get stuck with the bill and no real recourse. Local leaders should never fear a vote of the people.

What about fast growth areas like Montgomery County? Don’t we need more than 2.5 percent spending to deliver the basic and necessary services to a growing population? Yes, sometimes we do, and the legislation allows for that because new growth or new construction in the tax base is exempted from the calculation. That is fair.
Such a basic and simple approach to limiting uncontrolled property tax increases without a vote of the people should enjoy universal support, right? Well it doesn’t. Elected officials all across the state, and their lobbyists in Austin are fighting this tooth and nail.

I am taking a stand for the taxpayers, for SB2 by Bettencourt and HB2 by Burrows. I am joining Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and Speaker Bonnen in support of common-sense legislation to control and limit uncontrolled growth in local property taxes without a vote of the people.

The 86th legislature is working to deliver meaningful property tax relief using a multi-pronged approach. In addition to limiting growth to 2.5 percent, bills have been filed lowering the appraisal cap from 10 percent to as little as 3 percent, and school finance reform bills are also on the table. I will ask my colleagues to join me at the next meeting of Montgomery County Commissioners’ Court and pass a resolution endorsing these initiatives to protect the taxpayer.

RESOLUTION SUPPORTING EFFORTS BY THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE TO PASS THE PROPERTY TAX REFORM AND RELIEF ACT OF 2019

STATE OF TEXAS § COUNTY OF MONTGOMERY §
On the 12th day of February, 2019, at a duly posted and called meeting of the Commissioners Court of Montgomery County, Texas, on motion of Commissioner
, seconded by Commissioner , duly put and carried: WHEREAS, the State of Texas and Montgomery County have for years enacted
and stood by policies to encourage economic freedom and growth, and those policies have succeeded in creating economic prosperity; and
WHEREAS, that economic prosperity has caused the value of property to increase, and therefore Texas property owners have seen multiple years of appraisal increases that have increased property tax collections even without a corresponding rise in tax rates; and
WHEREAS, State Senator Paul Bettencourt and State Representative Dustin Burrows have filed Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2, both would reduce the rollback rate from 8 percent to 2.5 percent and require local elected officials to ask for voter approval any time the rollback rate is exceeded when adopted by the local taxing jurisdictions; and
WHEREAS, State Senator Brandon Creighton has authored along with several Senators SB 2, which would lower the rollback rate from 8 percent to 2.5 percent and require automatic tax rate ratification elections if the rollback rate is exceeded when adopted by the local taxing jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, State Senator Brandon Creighton has filed Senate Bill 657, which would impose a Constitutional appraisal cap of 3 percent for properties with an appraisal value of less than one million dollars and 5 percent for properties with an appraisal value of over one million dollars.

WHEREAS, State Representative Cecil Bell has authored HB 878, which would lower the Constitutional appraisal cap from 10 percent to 5 percent; and

WHEREAS, State Representative Will Metcalf has authored HB 946, which would lower the Constitutional appraisal cap from 10 percent to 5 percent; and
WHEREAS, Governor Greg Abbott has declared this property tax relief to be an Emergency Item in the 86th Legislature, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Bonnen have expressed their strong support for passage of this legislation; and

WHEREAS, the property owners of Montgomery County have long asked for property tax relief such as this legislation can provide; and
WHEREAS, it is within the power of this Commissioners Court to support our state leaders in passing legislation to help our local property taxpayers and to keep the economic engine that powers Montgomery County and the State of Texas strong.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE, THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT DO HEREBY ENCOURAGE THE MEMBERS OF THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY STATE LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION AND THE MEMBERS OF THE 86TH LEGISLATURE TO PASS HOUSE BILL 2 OR SENATE BILL 2 IN ORDER TO PROVIDE DESERVED PROPERTY TAX RELIEF TO THE CITIZENS OF TEXAS.

The Office of County Judge shall forward a copy of this resolution to each member of the Texas Legislature representing any portion of Montgomery County, Texas.
PASSED AND APPROVED this 12th day of February, 2019.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TEXAS
MARK KEOUGH, COUNTY JUDGE
MIKE MEADOR, COMMISSIONER PCT. 1
CHARLIE RILEY, COMMISSIONER PCT. 2
JAMES NOACK, COMMISSIONER PCT. 3
JAMES METTS, COMMISSIONER PCT. 4
ATTEST:
MARK TURNBULL, COUNTY CLERK

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