A Frisco resident, and former candidate for Frisco City Council, traveled to Austin to testify in favor of property tax reform because his own mayor stands in strong opposition to it.

Brandon Burden appeared before the Texas Senate Committee on Property Taxes in support of Senate Bill 2, which would help to slow the growth of Texas’ skyrocketing property taxes by allowing citizens more opportunities to vote on property tax hikes proposed by cities, counties, and school districts.

The bill, along with its counterpart in the house (House Bill 2), would reduce the rollback rate to 2.5 percent and trigger an automatic election for any local governing entity attempting to raise property taxes over that percentage. Cities that generate less than $15 million in combined sales and property tax revenue remain exempted.

Describing the real estate situation as “out of control” in Frisco today, Burden backed up his claim with hard numbers.

Over the course of time, Burden has owned three homes in Frisco. He purchased the first one 18 years ago for $136,000 and paid $3,000 in property taxes. His last home cost $445,000 and this year he paid $10,000 in property taxes. Burden stressed that while this price may sound like a lot, the median price for homes in the area is $429,000, which makes what he pays very close to what the average homeowner in Frisco pays. He added that if reform like SB 2 had been passed 18 years ago, “we would not be in the fix we are in today.”

According to the average net taxable home price data provided by the Denton Central Appraisal District, the average homeowner in Frisco living in Denton County saw a 24 percent increase in their city tax bill in the past five years. For Frisco ISD, the average tax bill shot up 44 percent over the same five year time period.

In the Collin County portion of Frisco, the average homeowner’s city tax bill paid shot up 31.4 percent between 2013 and 2016, the three most recent years for which data is available. For Frisco ISD, the average tax bill shot up 33 percent over the same three year period ending in 2016.

Burden said he had attended an online townhall where Frisco’s Mayor, Jeff Cheney, and Mayor Pro tem, Shona Huffman, both came out solidly against allowing local taxpayers an automatic vote on excessive tax hikes. Cheney himself had also referred to the current tax reform proposals targeting cities, counties, and school districts as “nonsense” in a post on social media.

This flew in the face of the messages Burden said he’d been receiving from his social media following of around 1,000 since his previous run for office. The message he says he’s been hearing is consistent: “Property taxes are eating us alive.”

Burden pressed forward, arguing beyond reform and asking for actual property tax relief, or a net reduction in what homeowners are forced to pay each year.

“That homestead exemption of 10 percent saved me a measly $60 dollars this year, and that is not what I call tax relief. What I call tax relief is $750 to $1,000 off of my bill, and until we get to that type of number in Frisco we do not have meaningful tax relief.”

MayorJeff Cheney
Email: jcheney@friscotexas.gov
Phone: 972-292-5050

Mayor Pro-Tem, Place 2: Shona Huffman
Email: shuffman@friscotexas.gov
Phone: 972-292-5052

Robert Montoya

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