The reappraisal movement might be picking up traction. From the InBox:
Spring Branch ISD Stands up for Taxpayers by Voting For Disaster Reappraisal
Senator Bettencourt lauds SBISD Trustees and asks where is Harris County, HISD, etc?
Houston, TX – In a unanimous vote at their October Board Meeting, Spring Branch ISD Trustees voted to conduct disaster reappraisals for those property owners impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Spring Branch ISD joins Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Katy ISD, Willis ISD, the City of Shoreacres, etc that have already acted to provide impacted taxpayers with much needed relief. Notably, the vote by SBISD means on the same property tax bill, taxpayers will get relief from only the SBISD portion of the bill and not Harris County or the City of Houston portions, unless they vote to disaster reappraise as well.
“Over and over, our board members stated their beliefs that this was the right thing to do for our community,” stated SBISD Board of Trustees President Karen Peck. “It reflects our SBISD core values of a Moral Compass, Collaborative Spirit and Collective Greatness,” she added in an October 12th SBISD press release.
Section 23.02 of the Texas Tax Code allows for a taxing unit located party or entirely in a declared disaster area to authorize reappraisal of damaged property following the disaster. Estimates from Spring Branch ISD are that this action will offer $7 million in savings to impacted taxpayers , and cost roughly $1 million to complete the reappraisal. Under Section 23.02, if multiple taxing units ask for disaster reappraisal in the same area they will share those costs. In an October 5th article in the Houston Chronicle, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett called disaster reappraisal “not a very workable solution”, citing the cost and the loss of revenue to the County.
“This is a workable solution now that another taxing entity expects to spend public monies here too,” continued Senator Bettencourt (R-Houston). “Harris County, for example, has received hundreds of millions of dollars more per year due to rising property tax appraisals. They can easily afford to split a few million in expense. Taxing entities should worry less about their own revenue streams and more about getting off the backs of homeowners who are trying to rebuild. It is time to put the taxpayers first!”
Hurricane Harvey is estimated to be the most expensive storm in the history of the United States having caused up to an estimated $200 billion in damage, across large parts of Southeast Texas. It is estimated that the storm dropped over fifty inches of rain on parts of Harris County, and a record 64.38 inches in Nederland.
“The bottom line in all of this is that we should not be kicking taxpayers while they are down.” concluded Senator Bettencourt. “It is a moral responsibility to give flooded out taxpayers a break!”
Yet another taxing entity does the right thing.
One thing to point out about Judge Emmett’s reluctance to propose reappraisals because of the expense. The more taxing entities that do the right thing, the cheaper it is per taxing entity because the cost is split. When I talked to HCAD’s Jason Cunningham prior to proposing reappraisals for the City of Shoreacres, he estimated the cost to be between $20 and $30 per home. At that price it was a no-brainer to me, even if no other taxing entity joined us. If all taxing entities on my tax bill did the right thing, the cost to each taxing entity would be $5 per home.
Regardless of the cost, it is the morally right thing to do. I’m glad that the board members of the Spring ISD recognized that. I hope that the rest of our elected officials will go ahead and do the right thing. While it might seem that I’m picking on Judge Emmett here, I’m not. As the leader of Republicans in Harris County, he could single-handedly turn this ship around and most all taxing entities would follow. As a fellow Republican, I’m simply asking him to do the right thing.
Correction: The first title of this post was “Reappraisals – Spring ISD does the right thing”. It should have been “Reappraisals – Spring Branch ISD does the right thing”. I apologize for the error. And much thanks to the friendly reader that pointed that out.