A Republican legislator wants to re-examine property tax protections enacted three years ago, with an eye toward making it easier for cities and counties to increase property taxes.
In 2019, the Texas Legislature passed a property tax reform package that included a 3.5 percent revenue increase cap on city and county government budgets. Any city or county government that intends to go beyond that cap must hold an election for voter approval.
State Rep. Jay Dean (R–Longview) claims his concern is with budgets in smaller cities and county governments. In a commentary published by the Longview News-Journal, he writes, “No amount of responsible budgeting in a small county or city can bring down the cost of diesel fuel needed to run fire trucks. … So now we find our rural counties and cities facing budget shortfalls, with no way to close them.”
According to Dean, the only option available to smaller governments in a world of Biden administration policies and extreme inflation is to decrease services.
However, Dean’s hometown of Longview—where he previously served as mayor—has a population of fewer than 100,000 but spends nearly $3 million on recreational programs. Rather than highlight these areas, Dean says road construction, police, and fire departments could face cuts due to budget constraints without reconsidering the current.
“An easy remedy would be to return counties with populations with less than 250,000 people to the previous 8 percent cap. Or, at a minimum, we should find a way to peg the cap to inflation,” explained Dean.
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility shed further light on the issue, explaining that Dean has a spotty record in the Legislature on fiscal matters.
“Representative Dean goes out of his way to suggest he himself is fiscally responsible, but his record as a lawmaker tells a much different story, having earned a career rating of an “F” on our Fiscal Responsibility Index for the two legislative sessions of which he has served,” said Jeramy Kitchen, executive director of TFR.
“Government spending on all levels is out of control. Texas should not be in the business of allowing some governmental entities to spend even more taxpayer dollars without their own [voter] approval of such things.”