Since I announced my candidacy for Bexar County Commissioner for Precinct 3 last year, I have heard hundreds of Precinct 3 constituents talk about appraisal reform and how it is necessary to address skyrocketing property taxes, an issue that is mainly driven by increases in appraised values of property. Adopting a budget and a property tax rate to support that budget are major functions of County officials in Texas.
The Texas property tax system is based on an equation that multiplies the adopted tax rate by every $100 of appraised value. We are seeing skyrocketing property tax bills due to rapid increases in appraised value. In addition, over the last decade, many local taxing jurisdictions have seen their budgets increase by close to 60 percent, rising faster than population increases or inflation.
I have pushed for all homeowners to protest their property tax, but only approximately a quarter do – and there is no guarantee they will actually see a decrease. While we already have a senior tax freeze and a senior veteran tax freeze, we need real change beyond just those populations.
Bexar County has been better than most, lowering the property tax rate eight times in the last 20 years. When appraisal values increase, taxing jurisdictions can only hold the line by adopting a tax rate that guarantees no new revenue – or we actually (and finally) address appraisal reform. Currently, the Bexar County Appraisal Board is composed of members appointed by the taxing entities. While I would want to be the County appointee to push for relief, we can’t bring real property tax reform until we bring checks and balances to the appraisal process.
The only option we have is to appeal the state legislature. We can only change the structure of the appraisal system with changes to state law. I will be the champion on the commissioners court lobbying the legislature to make that change. It is not enough to only demand it from candidates who are running for office every two years in the Texas State House – we, as local government officials, should want to roll up our sleeves and get in the fight. It will not get done in one session, but we have to at least make incremental change.
My ultimate goal is for the taxpayers to elect some – or all – of the appraisal board so we have better representation for the taxpayer. I will be that champion and will push to meet this goal. Not to mention, if folks are paying less in property taxes, they have more disposable income to help stimulate the economy by supporting small businesses and buying more goods and services, something that is desperately needed right now.
While a heavy lift, I have never been one to shy away from a challenge. I firmly believe it is not enough to talk the talk; we have to walk the walk on the appraisal reform issue. The approximately 500,000 constituents of Precinct 3 pay about 40 percent of the property taxes in the entire county. They deserve their fair share of infrastructure projects and for their voices to be heard. I hope to be their conduit for that by increasing constituent accessibility with the opening of a field office in the precinct that has previously not existed, as well as regular constituent communication via email and social media.
My more than 20 years as a small business entrepreneur has prepared me to ask tough questions, dig into tough issues and come up with inventive solutions. That’s exactly the mindset I will bring to the court and you can bet the first issue I’ll tackle is appraisal reform that will bring meaningful relief to the constituents of Precinct 3.
Read opponent Christine Hortick’s commentary here.