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Posts Tagged ‘property taxes’

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 […]

School finance trial do-over set to start soon

Once more into the breach. Hundreds of school districts in North Texas and across the state will resume their courtroom battle over funding in January, arguing that new money and reduced testing did little to fix Texas’ school finance system. State and legislative leaders contend changes they approved this year have blunted the districts’ arguments. […]

Precinct analysis: The Dome and the jail

Now that precinct data is out, the Chron has an updated take on what sunk the Astrodome referendum. Overall, 53.4 percent of Harris County voters rejected the bond issue that would have renovated the long-vacant Dome into a convention and exhibit space. In Houston, 50.1 percent of the voters turned it down, while in unincorporated […]

Theories abound about why the Dome referendum failed

I have three things to say about this. University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said the outcome of both county bond propositions, as well as the Katy stadium, is indicative of resistance among conservative voters to big-ticket spending items they believe are not necessary, or, in the case of the Dome, that could be […]

Mostly good news for Apollo

That’s the story so far. A three-year, multimillion-dollar experiment to improve 20 struggling HISD schools yielded big gains in math and limited progress in reading, according to partial results of a study released Wednesday. Now, Superintendent Terry Grier and the school board face decisions over what, if any, changes to make to the district’s nationally […]

HISD board approves 3-cent tax increase

It was a close vote. Property owners in the Houston Independent School District will see their tax bills rise after trustees Thursday narrowly approved the first tax rate increase for operations in a dozen years. The board voted 4-3 to raise the tax rate by 3 cents to fund a budget that includes raises for […]

Hall’s tax troubles, again

This isn’t new news, but it’s getting a lot more play now. Top mayoral challenger Ben Hall agreed to pay the IRS more than $680,000 in back taxes and penalties earlier this year, court documents show. On Jan. 16, less than a week before Hall made his first campaign expenditures as a mayoral candidate, the […]

Early to Rise appeal denied

That pretty much wraps it up, for now at least. A controversial 1-cent property tax to buoy local preschools will not be on the November ballot following a Houston appeals court ruling. The 14th Court of Appeals, in an opinion issued late Thursday, rejected the Harris County School Readiness Corp.’s lawsuit to force County Judge […]

The law and the Early To Rise petition process

Much has been made about the obscurity of the state law that allows for the petition process that the Early To Rise folks have followed to put an item on the ballot that would raise money for pre-K education in Harris County. The Chron takes a closer look at the statutes in question and the […]

Time for more information about Early To Rise

What Lisa Falkenberg says. They’ve turned over more than 150,000 signatures in favor of putting an early education tax on the Harris County ballot in November. Now the folks behind the Early to Rise campaign need to turn over the details. Actually, they should have turned them over a while ago. The well-meaning folks who […]

Astrodome referendum officially on the ballot

It’s been a long, strange trip, but at last you will get to vote on the fate of the Astrodome. The Commissioners Court on Tuesday unanimously voted to place a bond election for up to $217 million to convert the iconic stadium into a massive, street-level convention hall and exhibit space, saying residents should take […]

Astrodome referendum headed for the ballot

If you’ve been waiting for the chance to vote on the fate of the Astrodome, your wait will soon be over. Commissioners Court next Tuesday is expected to approve a measure asking voters to authorize the county to spend as much as $220 million to transform the vacant stadium, County Budget Chief Bill Jackson said […]