In case anyone thought the revolt against skyrocketing property taxes is just coming from mostly white middle class suburbs, the Brownsville Herald carries a powerful staff editorial today denouncing the recent seizure of 250 local homes and businesses because owners could not afford to pay their property taxes. The article notes that, in addition to the city and county, taxpayers are on the hook for two school districts and a navigation district, among other taxing authorities.
In fact, last month the San Antonio Business Journal reported that Texas leads the nation in the dubious category of home foreclosures with some 156,875 foreclosures in 2006 (one in every 51 households). No doubt excessive property taxes played a major role in many of these, with rising appraisals literally pulling the rug out from under many Texas families struggling to make ends meet.
The Brownsville Herald put it best:
"There can be no greater evidence of government run amok than the recent announcement that Cameron County plans to seize more than 100 homes, businesses and other properties because their owners havenâ€™t paid all the taxes that have been imposed on them. This follows the November auction of roughly 150 other properties for the same reason. That auction, ironically enough, took place on Nov. 7 â€” Election Day.
It would be insane to assume that some 250 people simply chose not to pay their taxes, and to lose tens of thousands of dollarsâ€™ worth of properly for a few thousand dollars in tax bills. A much safer guess is that most of these people simply couldnâ€™t afford to pay the bills."
The Legislature must act quickly on the outstanding recommendations made by the Governor's task force, including a 5 percent cap on property tax revenue increases, so that we can stem the tidal wave of property taxes that is flooding Texans out of their own homes. If this many homes were lost due to a natural disaster, we'd call in the National Guard, but we'll settle for simply putting into law the Task Force's reforms.