County leaders show support for property tax reform

County leaders show support for property tax reform

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The state can not lower your property tax rate, but lawmakers do plan to restrict how much it can increase. It is one of the governor's emergency items this session. 

Just last week, local leaders visited the capitol to meet with lawmakers over the proposals. 

"The truth is our property taxes have gotten out of control," Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said.

That is why through a joint effort, SB2 and HB2 would limit annual local government property tax growths. Currently, a rate hike above eight percent triggers an election. These measures would lower that to 2.5 percent.

County Commissioner Chad Seay stands by this rollback rate. He believes it holds local leaders accountable.

"As a tax payer myself, I pay a lot of taxes," Seay said."I want my input into this county government, even if I was not sitting in this position, I'm all for HB2 and SB2." 

Lubbock State Senator Charles Perry said two and a half percent does not work for every county. He said he asked for exemptions for certain rural communities, that can not afford the restriction. 

"If you serve a district as big as mine, you've got those big and small budgets," Perry said. "So I think it's smart to allow those districts not to have to go through those hoops to allow a very small amount of money to do very minimal county and city services." 

Perry is confident, despite some criticism from other lawmakers, these exemptions will stick.

"It was commitment day one from the Senate bill, it was a commitment day one from the House bill, the Governor has not shown any propensity or want to undo the carve out," Perry said.

Lt. Gov. Patrick said for Lubbock, it is going to address citizen's concerns.

"I have talked to many folks in Lubbock who talk about their property taxes," Patrick said.

However, City Councilman Steve Massengale said we will not know the full effect until school finance is put on the table.

"We expect to see that bill and when we see that bill and we can put it together, and kinda watch as they go parallel within the process," Massengale said. "Then we can have a better idea of what impact if any it could have on the city of Lubbock."

In a recent poll by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune, 72 percent of Texans said they want voter approval of property tax hikes. That poll question does not specify a particular rollback rate. See details on the strong support for voter approval of property tax rate increases from the Texas Tribune here.

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