"Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel."
Yesterday, Mayor Adler took a gratuitous and unnecessary swipe at legislative efforts for statewide property tax relief:
“We should not risk police, firefighting, EMS, parks, safety nets and transportation projects – all to save Austin homeowners only $2.69 a month. It’s risky and not real tax relief,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “If the legislature really wants to help local taxpayers, it should better fund education because that’s most of the Austin property tax bill.”Senator Bettencourt responded correctly:
“I side with the payers, not the spenders,” state Sen. Paul Bettencourt said in unveiling Senate Bill 2 to reform Texas’ increasingly burdensome property tax system.Bottom Line: We have a certain amount of sympathy for the argument that the property tax system really needs to be fixed at the state level. It's true that the current system doesn't give local officials many options. But to see such a prominent local official respond in this way to efforts to fix the problem at the state level really does tell you everything you need to know.
Sixth highest in the nation, local property taxes have exploded. City and county tax levies rose more than 70 percent since 2005 while Texas’ median household income grew just 32 percent.
Bettencourt called the cities’ arguments “disingenuous.”
“The victim is the taxpayer,” he said, citing complaints his committee heard in more than 50 hours of invited and public testimony across the state this year.
The cities’ sky-is-falling scenario assumes that SB 2 “caps” property tax increases at 4 percent. By that calculation, the four cities would have “lost” $770 million in revenue over the past decade.
In fact, SB2 would halve the so-called rollback rate while allowing local government to seek voter approval to go above 4 percent. New construction would remain exempt from the rollback, allowing for growth-related revenue.
“It’s not a cap,” Bettencourt told Watchdog.org in an interview. “If the cities want to go above the rollback rate they can do what school districts are required to do – go to the voters.”