• September 23, 2019

New tax law crimps county - Odessa American: Ector County

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New tax law crimps county

Property Tax Reform Act mandates lower ad valorem rate

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Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2019 4:54 pm

Passed by the Texas Legislature in Austin, signed by Gov. Abbott and scheduled to take effect next year, the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act will apparently force the Ector County Commissioners Court to lower its 39.7-cent per $100 in valuation ad valorem tax rate for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

That’s because the new law, Senate Bill 2, prohibits counties and cities from having more than a 3.5 percent revenue increase from the previous year while substantially rising county-wide property valuations would boost revenues by much more than that.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, gives the cash-strapped county the option of calling an election to get approval of a greater increase, however.

Odessa Rep. Brooks Landgraf said Monday that the law lowers the automatic rollback rate from 8 percent. “The idea is that the taxpayers should not be paying over 3.5 percent more from one year to the next,” said the Odessa Republican, who co-sponsored the bill and was one of the 107 among the 150-member House who passed it.

Landgraf said the Ector County commissioners, currently working on the 2019-20 budget they will adopt Sept. 10, needn’t worry about the change this year. “Senate Bill 2 takes effect next year when local governments, municipalities and counties are setting their tax rates for the 2020-21 fiscal year,” Landgraf said.

“The planning that’s going on now will not be affected. I worked with officials throughout District 81 (Andrews, Ward, Winkler and Ector counties) all during the session to meet the needs of the taxpayers so they would have more of a say in these decisions.

“The county could decide to roll back the tax rate or make a good case to raise it that the voters could approve.”

The law will require entities with the lowest rates, 2.5 cents or less like community colleges and hospital districts, to get voter approval of a revenues increase of more than eight percent.

Anita Campbell, chief appraiser of the Ector County Appraisal District, said Tuesday that the county’s certified total market value, driven largely by the booming energy industry, rose by about 16 percent this year to $19,207,899,040.

But that fell to $15,948,147,775 when the county’s exemptions for residential homesteads, nonprofit corporations and other classifications were applied, Campbell said.

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