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As Montgomery County begins its budget process for the 2018-19 fiscal year, one of the biggest questions looming before Commissioners Court is whether they will lower the tax rate enough to compensate for rising appraisals.

In Texas, the largest contributor to increasing property taxes is not necessarily rising tax rates, but rather, rising appraisals.  Local governments often keep the tax rates the same, or even lower them, however, if the appraised value of a taxpayer’s home goes up, they will still pay more taxes.

In Montgomery County, the county tax rate has largely remained the same each year and has actually gone down two cents over the last ten years. However, during that same time, property taxes have increased 133%!

Increasing the appraised value of peoples’ homes is an especially insidious way to raise property taxes. Elected officials can still campaign on having “lowered the tax rate”, all while bringing in millions more dollars in taxes.

The root cause that is driving the increase in county taxes is reckless spending. Montgomery County’s budget has grown significantly more than the growth in population, plus inflation, which means that taxes must be increase to keep up with the commissioners’ reckless spending.

If the commissioners court is serious about lowering taxes, they need to reign in spending and lower the tax rate enough to offset the increase in appraisals.

The citizens want to know: will commissioners lower the tax rate enough to give them real relief? Texas Scorecard reached out to County Judge Craig Doyal and all four commissioners and asked if they planned to lower the tax rate.

None of them chose to respond.

The property tax was the main issue in the last primary election, with State Rep. Mark Keough (R-The Woodlands) making reform the cornerstone of his campaign against Doyal.  The voters spoke clearly, and Doyal was defeated, although he will remain in office for the rest of the year.

Citizens must now remain engaged, and work to hold their elected officials accountable during the budget process.