Conservative activists in Montgomery County are celebrating a victory after the Conroe Independent School District Board of Trustees lowered their tax rate at a meeting Tuesday night. For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, the tax rate will be below the effective rate, meaning homeowners will see a real tax cut.
The effective tax rate is the rate at which taxes would remain the same as in the previous year when appraisal growth is factored in. In past years, CISD has either raised the tax rate or kept it above the effective rate instead of lowering the rate to offset rising property values, resulting in year after year of tax increases for homeowners.
Empower Texans held a property tax townhall in CISD a week before the vote and emphasized any rate above the effective rate is a tax increase. Taxpayers expressed frustration with their ever-higher taxes and said they planned to attend the next CISD board meeting to advocate a lower rate.
This year, CISD initially proposed a rate of $1.235 per $100 valuation, slightly above the effective tax rate of $1.234. However, after a concerted effort by conservative activists, the board lowered the rate to $1.230, which is a meaningful cut that residents should actually feel.
The effort on the board was led by trustees Skeeter Hubert and Dale Inman, who worked with the board and administration on a lower rate.
“Last night’s tax rate vote was a victory for everyone,” Hubert told Texas Scorecard. “For the first time in many years, CISD taxpayers will feel a decrease in their tax bill.”
“We can’t stop here,” he added. “We must continue to find ways to provide our students with the best education to meet their needs, while also finding ways to minimize the tax burden on the taxpayers.”
Republican activist Kelli Cook, one of the leaders of the citizens pushing for more fiscal responsibility, believes that while the rate is a good first step, the relief could have been greater without the proposed bond:
“Taxpayers put their foot down by showing up to the school board meetings and demanding the Conroe ISD trustees adopt a tax rate that won’t jack up their tax bill. That’s a good start, but the victory could have been so much sweeter if the taxpayers would have got a more significant tax break like the state Legislature intended.”
Cook explained further, “The upcoming junk bond and all the debt looming over the Conroe ISD taxing jurisdiction has to be serviced. In preparation for paying the interest to the bankers, they gobbled up the full tax relief. The only thing that might get their attention is for their second run at the bond [to] be defeated and for a couple of school board members to be replaced by people who will listen to the voters.”
Voters will determine the fate of the $676 million bond on November 5. In the meantime, they have a victory they can celebrate in the form a tangible tax cut, which is a testament to the difference citizens can make when they get involved and push for change at the local level.