A newly filed bill for the upcoming Texas Legislature could curtail how much property tax bills increase each year.Senate Bill 2, filed by Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt of Houston, would require cities and counties to ask for voter approval for any annual property tax hike of 4 percent or greater. The bill would not affect school district taxes.
EnlargeSenate Bill 2, filed by Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt of Houston, would require cities
PAUL TAKAHASHI / HBJ
In the interim since the 2015 legislative session, Bettencourt led a special committee that studied property taxes.
"Whether it was homeowners testifying that they are unable to keep up with their property tax bills, small business owners seeing their hard-earned profits go out the window or even big businesses testifying that they are locating new plants and taking jobs out of Texas due to high property taxes, they are all saying that property taxes are rising too fast in Texas," Bettencourt said in a statement.
Currently, voters can petition to hold a referendum on any property tax increase of 8 percent or more. SB2 would lower the threshold to 4 percent make the referendum automatic, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Central Texas municipal leaders railed against the changes that would cut the revenue they say they need to provide services and infrastructure in light of the region's population influx. San Antonio, Austin, San Marcos and New Braunfels would have lost $770 million over the past decade if SB2 were in effect, according to an announcement sent Nov. 29 by the officials in those cities.
Austin alone would lose out on $15.4 million in 2016 if SB2 were in effect, Mayor Steve Adler's office said in a press release — while saving the owner of the average home $2.69 a month on their property taxes.
“We should not risk police, fire fighting, EMS, parks, safety nets and transportation projects — all to save Austin homeowners only $2.69 a month," Adler said. "It’s risky and not real tax relief."
The 85th Texas Legislature begins Jan. 10.
Corporate Housing companies in Houston who own some of the properties testifyed that they would make their investmwnts in states where the property tax is growing in a senseable rate