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Posts Tagged ‘property taxes’

How the appraisal game is rigged

The Observer tells the tale of how we got to where we are with the appraisal process and how easy it is for the big boys to get their taxes drastically reduced. At the heart of Valero’s lawsuits in Moore County was a complicated question: What is a refinery worth? For that matter, what is […]

Still no consensus on how to deal with the criminal justice complex

And it’s back to the Mayor. Pushed by Mayor Annise Parker to decide whether Houston’s aging police and courts buildings should get patchwork repairs or be fully replaced, with both options carrying staggering price tags, City Council members instead opted for indecision. By a 12-4 vote, the body sidestepped both options – one of which […]

Aycock files school finance reform bill

Interesting. A key House Republican said Texas lawmakers should not wait for the outcome of a sprawling school finance lawsuit to discuss changes to the state’s current public education funding system. “While we do not know the final outcome of the school finance lawsuit, I believe it is appropriate to foster broad conversations on this […]

Hegar’s first revenue estimate is in

We’ll see how it holds up. Amid concerns that tumbling oil prices could push the Texas economy into a recession, Comptroller Glenn Hegar offered a cautiously optimistic tone on the future of the Texas economy Monday, announcing that lawmakers will have $113 billion to haggle over in crafting its next two-year budget. “Our projections are […]

Wake me up in June

As we prepare for the 84th Legislative session to begin, let’s pause for a moment and see what we can expect. Greg Abbott wants to make the world safe for plastic bags. Dan Patrick wants to cut his property taxes, and ensure that Texas never has enough money to meet its needs. Donna Campbell wants […]

Three signs of possible trouble ahead

#1 – Watch out for falling oil prices. The bedrock supporting Houston’s economy will shift in 2015, and while these tremors will not bring disaster, they will bring changes that some will find painful. The collapse of oil prices in 2014 has made it very difficult for economists, both public and private, who until recently […]

Valero’s special deal

I’m sorry, I just can’t get behind this. Companies routinely relocate to the city or state that lures them with the best tax break, but Valero wants Houston City Council to give its eastside refinery the same treatment without having to pack its bags. Valero wants most of its Manchester facility, the only refinery inside […]

Repair or replace?

Consider this an object lesson in the cost of deferring maintenance. A new Houston police headquarters and courthouse complex, discussed for decades, could reach a key turning point this week as Mayor Annise Parker seeks to force City Council members to choose between repairing the city’s existing facilities or tackling an enormous project to construct […]

A better way to cut taxes

Grits has a suggestion for the Legislature. Reduce local jail costs – which have been a big driver of tax increases in many Texas counties – by reducing penalty categories for low-level marijuana possession (currently a Class B misdemeanor for possession of two ounces or less) and driving with an invalid license (DWLI, currently a […]

What’s the Lege going to do with the revenue?

Not as much as it should, of course, because the Lege never comes close to doing as much as it should. It’s a question of whether they’ll try to address some real problems, or just engage in an orgy of tax cutting. Texans can expect tax relief, a laser focus on border security and more […]

Appraisal caps back on the agenda

The idea will never die, unfortunately. No matter what the effects are. Local officials in the Houston area say they are concerned that incoming state leaders will push for tax relief measures that could limit their ability to meet the needs of fast-growing urban and suburban areas. Gov.-elect Greg Abbott has spoken of “looking at […]

Council approves meaningless tax cut

Such awful policy. The Houston City Council unanimously passed a nominal property tax cut Tuesday afternoon, the first rate reduction in five years, as the city for the first time runs into a revenue cap imposed by voters a decade ago. The modest rollback equates to $12.27 a year for the owner of a $200,000 […]

From the “Simple answers to simple questions” department

The Statesman asks “Would Dan Patrick’s tax plan lower your taxes?” Efforts to shift toward sales tax in lieu of property and income taxes have in recent years gained momentum in Republican-led states — even as economists warn that this sort of tax reform is likely to harm the majority of taxpayers. Economists point out […]

HISD Board approves one cent tax rate increase

Still a low tax rate, just slightly higher now. As architects prepare designs for dozens of new campuses, the Houston school board on Thursday approved a 1-cent tax rate increase to help pay down debt from the largest school district construction bond in Texas history. The board voted 7-1 to raise the tax rate, the […]

The Lite Guv debate

It was lively, and it was a good reminder of who Dan Patrick really is. In the only scheduled debate in their race for lieutenant governor, state Sens. Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte faced off on Monday night in a lively exchange that displayed their divergent positions on everything from health care and […]

Dan Patrick sightings

I doubt that the Chron’s calling out of Dan Patrick had anything to do with him appearing in public, in the daylight, where there might be people that don’t vote Republican, but it was good timing anyway. Now that Patrick is a heavy favorite in his first statewide race, for the powerful position of lieutenant […]

The revenue cap has already hit

Lovely. Houstonians will see their first property tax rate cut in five years as the city runs up against a revenue cap imposed by voters a decade ago. The modest rollback works out to $12.27 a year for the owner of a $200,000 house with a standard homestead exemption. […] The city’s current property tax […]

More on the Emmett Astrodome Park plan

Good to know that an architect thinks its feasible, but it will need more than that to become reality. Kinder Baumgardner, president of SWA Architects, the firm behind several public projects in Houston involving parks, said plenty of big-idea architectural concepts that have been successfully carried out around the world initially were dismissed as impractical, […]

Repealing the revenue cap is only part of the answer

Repealing the dumb revenue cap charter amendment from 2004 won’t solve the impending fiscal problems by itself. It’s still a good idea to repeal it. With an estimated $144 million budget shortfall looming next summer, the city’s finance director delivered a harsh message Tuesday: even lifting a voter-imposed revenue cap will not save the day. […]

Harris County settles with HCAD

Not sure about this. Less than two months after formally challenging the way the local appraisal district calculates the value of vacant commercial land, Harris County has backed down. Commissioners Court on Tuesday OK’d the withdrawal of a petition filed in early June by the county attorney challenging the Harris County Appraisal District after the […]

Collier hits the road

Talking taxes, and our state’s screwed-up appraisal process. With about as many local candidates as voters in attendance, the Travis County Democratic Party hosted a “town hall” on property tax reform Friday morning, where everybody agreed with would-be County Commissioner (Precinct 2) Brigid Shea: “The appraisal process is broken.” To fix it – in the […]

HISD passes its budget

They restored a lot of funding, but it’s the changes to magnet school funding that everyone is talking about. Bouncing back from recent cash-strapped years, the Houston school board Thursday approved a bigger budget that gives raises to all employees, provides more money to campuses and may require a tax rate increase. The board, over […]

HISD prepares its budget

Teacher pay raises and magnet school funding changes are the main points of interest. Thanks to rising property values, all Houston ISD employees would receive raises and schools would get more money for supplies, field trips or tutors next year under a budget proposal drawing complaints for its long-term cuts to some popular magnet programs. […]

On cops and the revenue cap

Mayor Parker again calls attention to the city’s stupid revenue cap and the things it will prevent the city from doing if it is left in place. If Houston voters do not want police pulled from the streets next year, Mayor Annise Parker says, they better think twice about a cap on city revenues they […]

County to challenge vacant lot appraisals

It’s a start. Harris County is challenging the local appraisal district’s valuation of vacant commercial land after a study it commissioned concluded the agency had undervalued those properties by more than 80 percent this year. The finding was based on a random sampling of two dozen vacant commercial properties across the county with a collectively […]

Bell op-ed for eliminating the revenue cap

More like this, please. A decade ago, Houston voters restricted city property tax revenues to the combined rates of inflation and population increases. Like most arbitrary rules that politicians apply to math, this revenue cap sounds like a great idea until it meets the realities of a growing and expanding city. During the Great Recession, […]

Those uninvestigated criminal cases

To say the least, this is big news. The Houston Police Department, already reeling from a scandal involving shoddy work in its homicide unit, was dealt another blow Monday when a report revealed that some 20,000 burglary, theft, assault and hit-and-run cases with workable leads were not investigated in 2013. The authors of the city-commissioned […]

We’ve got some budget challenges coming

Some chickens are coming home to roost. Beginning next summer with fiscal year 2016, Houston will face a projected $142 million gap between expected revenues and expenses in its general fund, which is fed chiefly by property and sales taxes and funds most basic city services. That exceeds the $137 million budget gap Houston had […]

Some grassroots action on the unfairness of commercial property valuation

From the inbox: Parents, homeowners, teachers, and community members from Houston gathered at the park in front of Nathaniel Q Henderson Elementary School to kick off local efforts in a statewide campaign called Real Values for Texas to fix the state’s broken property tax system. “Our broken property tax system works against kids, homeowners, and […]

Why revenue caps suck

I’ve been expecting this. Despite a booming economy that is the envy of much of the nation, the city of Houston could face hundreds of layoffs and cuts in service next year as it runs headlong into a revenue cap put in place by voters a decade ago. Mayor Annise Parker sounded the alarm Thursday […]

Another story on the huge inequities of our property tax system

The Houston Press returns to an old favorite. “I’ve been sued every year by [JW Marriott],” says Michael Amezquita, the fiery chief appraiser of the Bexar County Appraisal District, which is currently ­facing $10.3 billion in appraisal-reduction litigation compared to the annual $4 billion to $5 billion average. In the 2011 tax year, BCAD’s ten […]

Collier’s sales tax criticism of Hegar makes the news

That’s how you do it. Democrat Mike Collier, a certified public accountant from Houston, will start airing television ads criticizing opponent Glenn Hegar, a Republican state senator from Katy, for his support to phase out property taxes and increase state sales taxes. Collier and Hegar are vying to replace outgoing Comptroller Susan Combs, a Republican. […]

Collier hammers Hegar for property tax idiocy

Good. During the recent Republican primary for state comptroller, state Sen. Glenn Hegar repeatedly endorsed eliminating local property taxes in Texas. Borrowing from GOP opponent Debra Medina’s 2010 playbook, Hegar urged a shift to sales taxes to make up the more than $40 billion a year of revenue that cities, counties, school districts and other […]

Harris County threatens to sue Harris County Appraisal District

That headline may sound dry, but this is a big deal. Worried about the erosion of the tax base, county officials said Wednesday that they may consider suing the Harris County Appraisal District over concerns it is undervaluing certain business properties at the expense of homeowners. Officials said HCAD’s Appraisal Review Board in recent years […]