FROM THE COUNTY CHAIRMAN’S DESK
Montgomery County Republican Party
Walter D. (Wally) Wilkerson, Jr., MD
Property taxes have been a hot topic of discussion both in the County and in the State Legislature this year. While a statewide property tax is prohibited, counties, cities, special districts and public schools utilize property tax revenues to finance their operations. The County Tax Assessor-Collector uses the certified appraisal roll prepared by the Appraisal District along with the tax rates from each taxing authority, the county, cities, special districts and public schools, to levy property taxes in October-November of each calendar year. In 2016 the average county home value increased by 6.17% over 2015. Tax Statements are mailed to property owners and mortgage companies. Taxes are considered delinquent if not paid by the end of February in the following year.
A number of taxing entities in 2017, notably the county, voted to provide the taxpayer with a 20% tax homestead exemption in tax year 2017. This meant that a typical county resident will pay about $253 less in tax year 2017 than they would without the exemption in place. However, County Judge Craig Doyal warned: “What we are giving residents in a 20 percent homestead exemption they will never see in their pocket because there are other entities that are raising their budgets. We could cut our budget in half and it would barely affect their overall tax bill. I would hope that other entities try to follow that lead and try to give the taxpayers some relief.” The County Commissioners also cut the County budget by 19.3 million dollars. More than 84% of the county population lives in unincorporated areas that require County and Special District services.
This warning is well taken when you consider the fact that the average home valued at $268,685 in 2016 was responsible for paying only 16.17% of its total property taxes to the county. According to the Montgomery County Tax Office, the property owner paid the following percent of the total 2016 tax bill: 15.23 % in city taxes, 18.86% in special district taxes, 3.47% in ESD taxes and 46.07% in school taxes. The school property tax bill should be very worrisome when you consider that the State Legislature did not address school finance in 2017. Unless the State increases its contribution to school financing, the property tax bill will only continue to grow to the point where a home and property owner will be shouldering an ever increasing percent of the school tax in a rapidly growing area like Montgomery County.
We all support quality education but the Texas State Legislature should and must act to increase the State’s contribution to the cost of education so this burden is shared by more than just the property and home owner. Some sort of dedicated consumption tax might be the answer. More citizens need to share in this cost. I am confident our State Representatives and State Senators will be at the forefront in solving this critical problem.