Bettencourt Sounds Taxpayer Alarm: ISDs Are Scheduling 'Tax Ratification Elections' to End-Run Mandated Property Tax Relief

Tax Ratification Elections (TREs) if passed by voters will wipeout state mandated M&O property tax relief

Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) is sounding the Taxpayer Alarm that Local ISD's and School Boards have scheduled Tax Ratification Elections (TREs) that, if passed by the voters, will wipeout state mandated maintenance and operation (M&O) property tax relief in their districts. As a result, taxpayers should be alerted that passage of a TRE means they could pay the same property tax rate as they did last year – and not get any, ZERO, property tax relief as a result.

For example, Katy ISD, Fort Bend ISD, and Beaumont ISD are all asking voters for TREs in November, but the net effect of this is a tax bill increase. With the tax rate the same as last year, taxpayers will have to pay the full amount of their appraised value increases, unless capped as a homestead at 10%.

"Even though the state is buying down the M∓O tax rates all over the state, individual school districts may be absorbing that decreased rate.

"In a year of record appraisal increases, to have a TRE in November is a really bad deal for Taxpayers if it passes,"
said Bettencourt.

"These TREs would take the tax rate right back up to the same rate as last years, with Taxpayers incredibly unhappy with the results!" 

Here are three examples to consider.

Katy ISD's M&O rate is being compressed by .0469 pennies due to HB 3 compression. The Katy ISD School Board is asking voters to approve a TRE for .0469 pennies to be added to their Tier 2 Enrichment funding, so the total M&O rate will stay the same this year as last year. This will provide Katy ISD with an additional $23 million plus another $1.9 million from the state. The owner of an average $301k home would pay an additional $141.17 in school taxes next year if the Katy ISD TRE is approved by voters.

A similar situation is taking place in Ft. Bend ISD.

Ft. Bend ISD's M&O compression is .06 pennies, and they are reducing their debt rate by .02 pennies. They could have approved a .04 penny debt rate reduction but only did half that amount. However, they are asking voters to approve a .0731 penny TRE. If the Ft. Bend ISD TRE is approved by voters, the owner of an average $301k home will pay $220.03 more in school taxes.

In Beaumont ISD, M&O rates are set to compress by .0295 pennies. The Board has voted to hold a TRE to increase the Tier 2 tax rate from the current .05 pennies to .0795 pennies. If the TRE is approved by the voters, the additional .0295 pennies will cost the owner of an average $301k home in Beaumont an additional $88.80 more.

"I'm hitting the alarm button on that because the Texas Taxpayer should be making that decision fully informed," said Bettencourt.

"This was not the spirit, nor the intent, or the expectation of passing property tax relief as these three examples show nearly $100 or more than $200 of higher tax bills."

Taxpayers must stay vigilant and be aware of any taxing unit that may be trying to short-circuit their Property Tax Relief, Bettencourt added.
"The bottom line is this: if there are ZERO tax rate cuts in any district, there is no tax relief for the hard-pressed Texas Taxpayers there!

"Because there is no central database collection of these elections, this could be happening all over the state," concluded Senator Bettencourt.