Saginaw officials have proposed a tax rate that would raise the average homeowner’s city property tax bill nearly 11 percent from last year and nearly 57 percent from just six years ago, from $533 to $836.

Data from the Tarrant Appraisal District shows that from 2013-2018, the average Saginaw homeowner’s city property tax bill rose 41 percent, from $533 to $752. Saginaw’s proposed property tax rate for 2019-2020, $0.469 per $100 valuation, is significantly above their “effective” tax rate of $0.430869. City officials originally proposed a rate of $0.459 per $100 valuation but recommended the higher rate in August.

“The clear consensus of the council and direction given to the city manager was to raise the rate even higher to approximately $0.469 or just under the rollback rate,” wrote Place 2 Councilman Patrick Farr. “This consensus was reached without having current year capacity information to determine if such an increase is warranted or considering other revenue sources besides property tax.”

Farr said he’s has been advocating for limiting property tax revenue increases to just over $429,000. He has also argued against the sale of tax notes that increase the city’s debt level without voter approval, which he said account for $0.02 of the proposed tax rate. Farr writes that if his plan were executed, the city could adopt a tax rate below the effective rate, limiting increases in homeowners’ property tax bills from the city to 1.66 percent.

The effective tax rate, also called the “no-new-revenue” rate, adjusts as property values change to keep taxpayers’ bills more or less the same from one year to the next, in the aggregate, though individual results vary based on valuations and exemptions.

Texas’ Truth in Taxation laws require taxing entities to calculate and publish their effective rate each year to ensure the public is informed of any property tax increases, because year-over-year rate comparisons are meaningless as they don’t account for changing property values.

Taxpayers still have a chance to make their voices heard to their city council.

A first public hearing was held September 3 at 6 p.m., and a second hearing will be held September 10 at 6 p.m.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.