Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ivy Taylor and Austin, San Marcos and New Braunfels Mayors Rally Against Property-Tax Relief Bill

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 12:50 PM

Mayor Ivy Taylor is one of the four city leaders in Central Texas who oppose the recently filed Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act. - SARA LUNA ELLIS
  • Sara Luna Ellis
  • Mayor Ivy Taylor is one of the four city leaders in Central Texas who oppose the recently filed Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act.
A property-tax reform bill filed by Texas State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) last week has encountered potent opposition from mayors in cities along the Interstate 35 corridor.

Specifically, the leaders of San Antonio (Ivy Taylor), Austin (Steve Adler), San Marcos (Daniel Guerrero) and New Braunfels (Barron Casteel) are targeting the proposed four percent revenue cap that’s put forth in the Bettencourt-authored Senate Bill 2. The mayors, through spokesperson Jeff Coyle, say that if the four-percent limit had been in place over the past decade, the I-35 cities would’ve lost at least $770 million in tax revenue. (The calculations, according to Coyle, were based upon Texas Comptroller data as well as financial statements of the individual cities.)

Additionally, the city officials contend that the four-percent cap will compromise essential city services such as police and fire protections while only saving some residential property owners a couple of bucks a month in property-tax payments.

“Under the State’s proposal to cap city budgets, the average homeowner in some cities might only save $2 or $3 per month, while cities will lose millions in revenues every year," writes Coyle, director of government and public affairs for the City of San Antonio.

“The four percent revenue cap proposal… would severely impact these fast-growing cities’ ability to provide critical services for their growing populations,” adds Coyle. “The region is expected to see continued exponential population growth, creating even greater demands for public safety, safe roads and infrastructure that fosters continued economic development.”

“We should not risk police, fire fighting, EMS, parks, safety nets and transportation projects – all to save Austin homeowners only $2.69 a month. It’s risky and not real tax relief,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a prepared statement. “If the legislature really wants to help local taxpayers, it should better fund education because that’s most of the Austin property tax bill.” The Current asked Coyle how the $2.69 per month figure was calculated, and he said it was based upon City of Austin financials.

As previously reported, the Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2017 seeks to reverse the ever-increasing trend of increased property taxes for everyday homeowners in the state. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named ad valorem taxation reform as one of his top 10 legislative priorities heading into the upcoming session.

According to a City of San Antonio Department of Finance document acquired by the Current, the city, with a four-percent revenue cap in place, would've lost $297,994,877 in annual variance general fund revenue between fiscal years 2007 and 2017.

“The bottom line is that we want locally elected officials and local governments to have the flexibility to make financial decisions that are in the best interest of our communities,” Coyle tells the Current by phone. “If the state hamstrings our community needs, it will suffer and impact our growth centers.”

“Why mess with that? What problem are we trying to solve here? It would give minor relief for homeowners while critically impacting our cities,” says Coyle.


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