The two Republicans on the Harris County Commissioners Court will have an opportunity to stop a massive property tax hike being pushed by County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the court’s Democrat majority at their upcoming October 8 meeting.
The Democrats are proposing raising the county tax rate from the current rate of 63 cents per $100 valuation to $2.26 per $100 valuation, which State Sen. Paul Bettencourt has called a “maximum smash.”
“They have taken advantage of the law prior to Senate Bill 2 and ran the rollback rate up the maximum allowed limit (8 percent),” explained Bettencourt. “SB 2 will cut this to 3.5 percent in the future. However, since they can add in new construction to their calculations, they will be able to take in 10 percent more revenue in 2019 prior to the law going into effect in 2020.”
Bettencourt continued, “On a $179,000 taxable value average home, homeowners will be paying $131 more per year starting this fall if this proposal is not reversed after public hearings at commissioners court.”
While Hidalgo and the two other Democrats on the court, Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia, support the tax hike, the two Republicans, Jack Cagle and Steve Radack have said they oppose it. However, there is a way Cagle and Radack could block the measure entirely.
According to Texas law, a quorum of four members must be present when voting on a tax increase. If Cagle and Radack are truly serious about blocking the tax hike, they could simply refuse to attend the meeting, denying Hidalgo the quorum needed to push it through.
Neither has stated their intentions regarding the meeting. Radack has, however, pushed back on the idea, stating that he hasn’t missed a meeting in five years (although he has been in office since 1988).
Cagle and Radack will have an opportunity on October 8 to prove whether they are serious about stopping the tax hike or if their stated opposition to the proposed rate is just political posturing.