Houston City Council voted to lower the property tax rate by 2 cents, or 3.4 percent, but it was more of an administerial task than one of bold action by the council.
The 2004 voter-imposed property tax cap prohibits the city from collecting more than the combined rate of population growth and inflation or 4.5%, whichever is lower, so the city was required to reduce the rate as to not collect more than allowed under the law.
Officials didn’t do it with ease.
Throughout the conversation, council members questioned what would happen if they chose not to adhere to the proposition and continued to collect at the level exceeding the cap. City Attorney Ron Lewis advised that it would open the city up to litigation as they would be in violation of the cap.
Mayor Sylvester Turner warned that the city would have “$43 million less to work with” for what equates to roughly $49 per average household in savings. Four out of the last five years the city was required to reduce the property tax rate to come into compliance with the cap leading to roughly $700 million in savings for taxpayers overall.
Despite a reduction in the rate, Council Member Mike Knox reminded everyone that the city would still be collecting $30 million more this year than it did last year. The $43 million the city would be forgoing would have been on top of that.
In the end, Council Members approved the measure with Council Members Ellen Cohen and Dwight Boykins voting against the tax cut.