As the City of Dallas finalizes their budget, they should listen to their paper’s editorial board, or look to their neighbors. The Dallas Morning News is telling the city council “this is no time for a tax increase.” Meanwhile, Collin County, just north of Dallas, is dealing with the bad economy by offering a tax decrease.

The Morning News editorial board on Sunday noted that tax increases should be used only “for a worst-case scenario.” While times are bad, they aren’t that bad yet, the editorial board wrote.

The best way to deal with a sluggish economy, is to free up capitol by reducing the burden of taxes. That’s the route being taken in Collin County, where commissioners just approved a budget that actually cuts property taxes.

In Texas, property tax rates have to be carefully watched. One can keep the old rate, which is actually always a tax increase, because appraisals rise. Or one can adopt the “effective rate,” which accounts for higher appraisals and brings in the same amount as the previous year. Now, some politicians will adopt the effective rate, and claim they cut taxes – while doing nothing of the sort.

Or a taxing entity can do what County Judge Keith Self and the county commissioners did, and adopted a rate below the effective rate – which represents a true tax cut.

Under Judge Self’s leadership, Collin County has continued to streamline operations, reduce costs and cut taxes. They were the first county in the nation to put their expenditures online in a real-time, searchable format. As a result, the local economy continues to perform strongly.

That’s a model that not only Dallas should follow, but others as well.

Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.