Harris County Calls for Maximum Tax Increase

By Urban Reform Staff | Sep 10, 2019

For the first time in two decades, Harris County Commissioners Court is proposing to raise the property tax rate for county residents. The newly proposed rate is 0.65260 per $100 of value, up from last year’s 0.62998.

Commissioner Cagle proposed an alternative to keep the effective tax rate, the lowest option on the table, for all entities except the Flood Control District, which would be allowed to maintain the current rate.

Commissioner Adrian Garcia propose to maintain the same rate as 2018, but allow the Hospital District to collect the maximum allowed by state law without a voter approval.

Both proposals were shot down in favor of allowing all four Harris County taxing entities – Harris County, Flood Control District, Port of Houston, and Hospital District – to adopt the rollback rate, or the maximum allowed by state law without requiring voter approval. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt called the move a “maximum smash” on taxpayers.

Commissioners Cagle and Steve Radack voted against the measure while County Judge Hidalgo, and Commissioners Garcia and Ellis voted in favor.

Hidalgo said they wanted to adopt the maximum rate to allow for them to create a “rainy day fund” in the event of future emergencies, but seemed to ignore the impact that such an increase would have on taxpayers.

When the proposal was laid out to maintain the 2018 rate for entities, but allow the Hospital District to collect the higher rate, she said, “folks are just going to see $20 so may as well put them $30 and be safe,” talking about the overall amount taxpayers will see as a result of the vote.

The court is scheduled to formally adopt the rate on October 8 which will also serve as the last of three public hearings. The first public hearing will be on September 20 at 10 am and the second will be September 24 at 1 pm.

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