Reporters covering the 86th Legislative Session called it “boring” because there were “No fist fights. No gun threats.” Ultimately 1,429 of 7,324 House & Senate Bills filed passed (19.5%) and 4% of those were vetoed. Just 391 property tax related bills were filed and 35% passed (with an occasional veto).
I would call it far less than boring because some of the most profound tax and school finance reforms in more than 30 years resulted.
What does that mean for you? In short – as a result of just two bills (HB 3 and SB 2) school district maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rates will be “compressed” for 2019 and rates decreased from 7¢ to 10.2¢ depending upon the 2018 rate. That calculates to $70 to $102 per $100,000 of value in savings. Expect future savings as school district rates will continue to be compressed as property values increase. These savings are for every property owner – not just homesteads. It doesn’t get any fairer than that!
Then beginning in 2020, school district spending will be limited to 2.5% and most other governments to 3.5% unless voters approve more at automatically scheduled November elections (disaster exception included). There will be greater transparency – you will know who voted for any tax increases, public hearing notices will be more readily available and county appraisal districts will provide notice to all property owners of actual impact on taxes prior to adoption via an online database. You will be able to submit your opinion of the tax rates electronically!
I am most impressed with the less touted changes – the Comptroller will form a Property Tax Advisory Board with a primary responsibility of establishing Statewide appraisal consistency, CADs may/are encouraged to provide a listing of individuals willing to provide free assistance to homeowners, CADs will no longer be allowed to charge for documents when you protest and must notify individuals of all exemptions available to them. ARBs (and Arbitrators) will have more training and gone are the days that a renegade ARB increased someone’s value! Should you file a lawsuit when protesting a property value, you may pay the taxes you believe are owed and you will be provided additional time to pay any additional balance without penalties.
Although I am incredibly excited by these changes – I likely lost most of you at the third paragraph.
No problem – I will be broadcasting additional information as it becomes available and when it is most important for you to know. These are just some of the changes resulting from two bills – there are at least 20 others that take effect September 1 and many more January 1, 2020. Follow me on Facebook @Cheryl Johnson for additional property tax, election and other legislative changes that will impact you (as well as for important tax deadlines).
In the meantime – thank your State Representative and Senator! Historically, what goes into a session as steak comes out as vegetable soup. This time, teamwork ruled the day and our Legislators were focused and committed. They compromised in some areas but overall – we got an all-beef burger!