Hardly surprising – a special tax intended to ‘fund services and improvements’ is demonstrably driving away major businesses and stifling growth in one of Texas’ major downtown districts.
In central downtown San Antonio, a Public Improvement District levies a special tax on properties in addition to all regular property taxes for the purposes of “funding services and improvements.” The tax is expected to raise about by about four million next year, according to San Antonio’s Downtown Operations department.
However, as Kenric Ward with Watchdog.org writes, downtown San Antonio suffers from stifled growth when compared to similar downtown districts across the state – ostensibly due to the overwhelming tax burden imposed by the city on the area. In fact, even without the special tax from the PID, the downtown area suffered the largest increase in overall property taxes last year – averaging a staggering $91,000 per parcel.
Predictably, savvy businesses prefer not to operate within the high-tax PID – AT&T moved out of its downtown headquarters, and USAA does most of its business just outside of the zone. Residential development is similarly anemic.
Meanwhile, property taxes – both in and out of the PID – are skyrocketing, due to rising appraisals.
“Since 2012, one representative downtown condo recorded a whopping 68.8 percent increase in its appraised value,” Ward writes.
Even in the face of these increases, the City is considering its largest budget ever – at an astounding $2.5 billion, a sizable portion of which seems less than necessary. For example, the city is going to spend six figures on a single toilet stall.
Watchdog also reports that about $13 million of the new budget will be spent on Wi-Fi for public parks and solar-powered phone chargers on benches.
Unfortunately, as municipal spending habits illustrate, ever-increasing property taxes show no sign of slowing down – much less reversing – on their own. If citizens want real meaningful tax relief, it is up to them to hold their elected officials accountable for squandering funds that could have provided such on useless pet projects.