Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney is continuing his campaign against property tax reform that would give citizens more control of their own money.

On February 2, Cheney took to social media and debated Collin County Judge Chris Hill over pro-taxpayer changes to state law. The issue began after Hill created a Facebook poll asking his followers whether they support newly proposed state legislation that would give Texans more say over their property taxes.

As of now, with 181 votes in, the poll sits at 92 percent in favor of Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2, with only 8 percent against.

“The identical bills filed in the Texas Senate and House would trigger an automatic vote of the people for property tax revenue increases greater than 2.5%,” Hill explained.

Hill then commented on how many local government officials are opposed to giving citizens a greater say over their money.

“Unfortunately, many elected officials seem to think that ‘local control’ really means ‘control over the locals,’” he said. “Of course, the purest form of local control is allowing constituents to vote on property tax increases, which is exactly the intent of the proposed legislation.”

Mayor Jeff Cheney then jumped onto Hill’s personal Facebook page and asked him to explain how the new legislation, entitled SB 2, would reform and reduce property taxes.

“In communities like Frisco, this legislation would shift the tax burden from corporations to residents as tools like the homestead exemption and senior exemption would have to be evaluated each year,” wrote Cheney. “Perhaps your poll should be changed to ‘do you want companies to pay less and residents pay more?’

“Have you read the bill in its entirety?” replied Suresh Kumar.

Judge Hill responded to Cheney by saying he never claimed the legislation would bring property tax relief, only stop the “out-of-control, year-after-year escalation of property taxes.” He also pointed out that it doesn’t take away existing revenue from cities, nor does it stop them from raising property taxes—it only requires them to ask permission first if the raise is above 2.5 percent.

“And even then, if a city or county needs or wants to raise the tax burden more than the limit, the voters can approve it,” Hill said. “There’s truly no downside!”

Hill then addressed Cheney’s misleading statement.

“I fear you’ve provided a false scenario that property tax reform will automatically shift the property tax burden to the residential taxpayers,” Hill wrote. “The suggestion that that’s the only possible outcome is an ominous claim that serves to scare the voters, whether intentional or otherwise.”

Hill said the public has already spoken overwhelmingly in favor of reform, referencing the 2018 ballot referendum where 90 percent of Republican primary voters supported property tax reform. He said many even think the newly proposed legislation isn’t strong enough on holding local governments accountable to the public on spending and taxes.

“If you’re suggesting that you actually want to lower real taxes in Frisco, that’s fantastic!” Hill continued. “I will be proud to stand with you on behalf of the taxpayers.”

Cheney then completely sidestepped Hill’s comments.

“I do agree that the state could do much more by tackling education funding,” Cheney wrote. He then called for state legislators to work more with the cities, and expressed hope that the Collin County Commissioners Court would meet with all their city governments before passing a resolution on property tax reform.

“That is what leadership looks like to me,” he said.

Hill’s Facebook followers weren’t happy with Cheney’s stance.

“It sounds like you are saying they should ignore the will of the individual voter en masse and just listen to you because you are mayor,” Melanie Royer wrote.

Cheney replied that whenever he asks constituents if they want lower taxes, he gets a 100 percent positive response—until he explains the pros and cons of “this legislation.”

“Using a binary poll under the pretense of ‘tax reform’ is a false validation,” he said.

Citizens quickly questioned why the mayor would oppose giving citizens a greater voice. Residents Royer and Kumar expressed their disappointment over city officials recently labeling property tax reform legislation as “threats” and “blowing over” talks about the effective tax rate.

“This, in my humble opinion, did not demonstrate fiscal conservatism,” said Kumar.

A majority of other comments on Hill’s page were in favor of property tax reform.

Cheney did not respond. He only asked Hill to post a copy of the resolution the commissioner’s court will be voting on.

This is Cheney’s second attack on property tax reform, having previously called it “nonsense” while urging State Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco) to oppose it.

Cheney also opposed Frisco taxpayers this year when he offered a special deal to a billionaire land developer.

Mayor: Jeff Cheney
Phone: 972-292-5050

Collin County Judge: Chris Hill
Phone: 972-424-1460 ext. 4631

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.