July 31, 2014
Included is an update from the last few weeks on property tax fairness and the Real Values for Texas campaign.
On June 13th, dozens of homeowners and community members waited anxiously until 3:30 a.m., but luckily not in vain. In an unprecedented move, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to investigate commercial property valuations and to gear up to challenge them next year. (Austin American-Statesman)
On June 27th, property tax was on the mind of many who attended the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas. Democratic Comptroller nominee Mike Collier, Travis County Commissioner-Elect Brigid Shea, and Real Values for Texas hosted a session to discuss how the current property tax system is rigged to burden homeowners and deprive communities of vital public services. (Breitbart)
Democrats are not alone, though. Libertarian Comptroller candidate, Ben Sanders echoed a similar concern regarding commercial property appraisals in TribTalk on July 6th:
“Third, we should mandate price disclosure on commercial property to enable “apples to apples” evaluation. This will allow citizens to see how much tax corporations are paying, providing a much-needed check and balance on the property tax system.”
On July 9th, Senator Sylvia Garcia highlighted the growing momentum she has witnessed across the state over the past year for property tax reform in the Houston Chronicle. She also explained that:
“And the solution is not to abolish the property tax and raise the sales tax as some have suggested. That would only increase our reliance on one form of tax revenue that already disproportionately impacts low-income individuals. Instead, what we need is to reform our property tax system in a manner that is fair and transparent for all Texans.”
On July 18th, Democratic Comptroller nominee Mike Collier and Travis County Commissioner-Elect Brigid Shea held a press conference and a townhall meeting in Austin about how homeowners and local communities shoulder an unfair burden when large commercial property owners manipulate the property tax system. The discussion was broadcasted live and folks around the state participated via the#TxFairTax hashtag on Twitter. Hopefully the Republicans will start talking about the issue soon as well! (Burnt Orange Report; Austin Chronicle)
Since our last update, Harris County has decided to drop the formal challenge to HCAD’s appraisal of vacant commercial land. Instead, on July 22nd, both parties reached an information-sharing agreement where HCAD will share the independent study they commissioned and nonconfidential sales data for vacant commercial lots on an ongoing basis. (Houston Chronicle)
As more and more conversations take place about property tax reform, one result is that a variety of approaches to solutions are emerging.
On July 25th, Michael King of the Austin Chronicle highlighted the unintended consequences of a possible Prop 13 type of solution for appraisal caps, which in California “resulted in the undermining of the state budget and the devastation of what was once the best public school and higher education system in the country.” Additionally, Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler from the Travis County Appraisal District offered 14 wide-ranging solution proposals in a briefing earlier this month. (Austin American-Statesman).
As the conversation expands and the movement for Real Values for Texas grows, stay tuned for more updates and highlights from around the state.