Harness Appraisals Gone Wild
Texas has the 7th highest property tax rate in the nation. My property valuation rose
100% this year. A friend living in McDade (Bastrop County) saw a 600% increase.
I was a renter until age 51. I am grateful to those who helped me secure an
affordable home. I fear for those who cannot even dream of what I have.
Remember Ross Perot's "crazy aunt in the basement”?
He was talking about the federal debt. These are my crazy aunts in the Texas State
legislative basement begging to be let out in this election. Help me set them free!
• Elect, rather than appoint, appraisal district board members, giving taxpayers more direct accountability. Just realize, average homeowners have a built-in disadvantage in their tax protests. Though you can do it yourself, many people lack the skill, time, or stamina due to age or ill health required to do it themselves.
• Accurately value large-scale commercial properties which were, on average, undervalued by 40% in a comprehensive study by the Texas Appraisal District Association in 2006, resulting in a $4 billion annual tax loss. There was a push by some legislators to pass sales price disclosure for commercial properties. It is still not passed. Today, the appraisal districts are doing a better job at commercial valuations. However, the properties could still be undervalued by roughly 20%, with billions of tax dollars lost annually from the commercial sector, thereby continuing the burden on homeowners. The abuses continue, however, more significantly and more likely in land valuations. I have solid reports of land valued at 0%! What’s more, million+ dollar homes are undervalued. I do know of at least one $5 million home in Austin that is valued at less than half.
• Unburden homeowners (and renters, by default) from paying the full freight for public education. The State can, and should, pick up more of the tab. Cutting the State’s massive corporate giveaways is one obvious source of funding for schools. (More in the next section.)
• Require bond packages to ITEMIZE projects and allow voters to choose which ones they support. Ex: Austin ISD just slammed a $2.4B bloated bond on the November ballot. It won't give the voters a choice to reject bulldozing buildings for new ones with fancy (and expensive) architectural design or to prioritize teacher salaries and academics over new sports facilities. This is SO all kind of Texas wrong!
• Make high-end water users pay the true value of water to the counties where the supply originates, and pay more, the more water they use. HD17’s water is being raided for out-of-district projects like municipal supply and chip plants without fair compensation. (And mind you, the aquifers can’t live on dollars thrown at the problem of unsustainability, though landowners clearly deserve not to subsidize someone else’s prosperity by having their water involuntarily taken out from under them without compensation!)
• Fund a state-provided booklet that explains exactly how much Texans are paying for all of its programs.
By the way, if you have any better or additional ideas, I'd love hear them. Shoot me an email or give me a call.