North Texas property taxpayers are taking a beating due to runaway government spending and debt. Yet instead of offering city residents much-needed relief, McKinney is joining other local taxing entities in asking for more spending and debt that must be repaid with property taxes.

McKinney City Council approved placing five debt proposals totaling $350 million on the city’s May ballot:

  • Proposition A: $75,000,000 for public safety facilities
  • Proposition B: $50,000,000 for municipal community complex
  • Proposition C: $91,000,000 for parks and recreation facilities
  • Proposition D: $34,000,000 for public works facilities
  • Proposition E: $100,000,000 for street improvements including sidewalk, alley, and other traffic flow improvements

The money would be spent over the next several years and would have to be repaid, with interest, by McKinney’s already over-burdened property taxpayers. The city currently owes about $237 million in outstanding debt, according to its “Bond 2019 FAQs” website (the city’s financial services site offers a comprehensive look at the city’s debt obligations).

If all five propositions pass, total spending would exceed the city’s last three debt packages combined. In 2015, voters approved $100 million of the city’s proposed $146 million debt package—about half of that remains unissued but is allocated to streets and public safety projects. Voters authorized $51 million in 2010 and $91 million in 2006 to fund mainly streets, parks, and public safety.

City officials say the new debt will not increase the district’s debt service tax rate; what they don’t say is that it will increase residents’ tax bills.

Since 2013, the average McKinney homeowner’s city property tax bill has increased 48 percent, from $1,214 to $1,797. The city lowered the tax rate several times, but not enough to offset skyrocketing property values. City coffers have also benefitted from double-digit growth in McKinney’s tax base each of the past five years.

Appraisal notices mailed this month confirm local property values are continuing to rise. That means McKinney residents’ property tax burdens will continue to rise as well, driving some out of their homes and out of the city—unless city officials choose to rein in spending and tax rates and allow local taxpayers to keep more of their own money. So far, they haven’t.

While McKinney and other taxing entities talk about “keeping rates the same” or “not increasing property taxes,” none are offering taxpayers any relief in the form of reduced tax bills. In fact, average property taxes in the DFW metroplex rose 8 percent last year—well above the national average of 3 percent.

In addition to more tax-funded debt, three McKinney City Council races are on the May ballot. District 2 incumbent Rainey Rogers is running unopposed. Rick Franklin and Siotha Vest are vying for the open District 4 seat. Frederick Frazier, Stephen Kallas, and John Mott are running for the open At Large position. Two charter amendments to simplify the recall process are also on the ballot.

It’s McKinney voters’ turn to choose how much new city spending and debt they’re willing to pay for with rising property tax bills, and who they want deciding future city spending and taxes.

Early voting is underway now through April 30 in the May 4 election.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.