As many of you may know, the Texas Legislature meets every two years and they met this year as scheduled. There were hundreds of bills that were introduced and some were enacted in to law, some failed, and some of them did not make it out of the gate.
Some had substance, some were “feel good bills,” but nothing substantial in the area of property tax reform and the need to give property owners much needed relief.
I myself had interest in HB 288 that was introduced by District 85 representative Phil Stephenson. According to an El Campo Leader-News article Representative Stephenson stated that this bill had the potential to reduce property taxes by 50 percent.
My last conversation with one of his staff at the capital ended with me being told that the bill had been referred to the “Ways & Means Committee,” and I interpreted that as the bill being sent to committee to die.
At this point I have come to the following conclusion or opinion ... First and foremost, the shift in the burden to fund schools, municipalities, county governments, etc, has gradually shifted from the state to individual property owners.
The state of Texas is aware of this and obviously doesn’t believe it’s a problem because they have chosen to do little or nothing about it.
The Central Appraisal District, though accommodating at times, is just administering guidelines that come from the top and their valuation process is lacking at best.
Incidentally, properties are over-valued more often than they are under-valued benefiting the state and not the property owners.
By now you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this.
Most of you are already aware of the things I’ve mentioned, and may be thinking “What the hell is new?”
So in summation, let me share my thoughts. Somewhere in this great State of Texas, someone needs to initiate a movement that will address this undue and unfair burden on property owners.
Again, it doesn’t appear to me that any of the people we’ve elected recognize or acknowledge how grave this issue really is. We, as taxpayers, have little or nothing to gain by waiting for the next legislative session that is scheduled for 2023 and then starting at square one at that particular point and time.
This annual property tax expense will be in front of us again at the latter part of this year and is not going to get any better unless we, the taxpayers, rise up and address this problem now.
Our schools, municipalities and county governments deserve fair and adequate funding, but it should not be on the backs of taxpayers and solely driven by property taxes.
In closing, let me just say that I still believe in our Democratic form of government. Though slow and cumbersome at times, we the people still have the power to bring change when we unite for a common and just cause.
There is no better time than the present to start!
– Robert L. “Bobby” Perez is a former City of El Campo mayor pro tem and the 2013 El Campo Citizen of the Year.