Hurricane Harvey has wiped away value from many Texans’ homes. To continue to tax them as if the storm never happened is akin to taxing property that doesn’t exist. Since the Texas Constitution states that property subject to taxation shall be appraised at market value, taxing the lost value violates the spirit of the law.

Clearly, if our political leaders had even a passing interest in fairness, and if they had any fidelity to the Texas Constitution, they would immediately adjust the post-storm value of all residential properties affected by the storm and reduce homeowners’ tax bills accordingly. Homeowners devastated by Harvey have suffered a lot. We shouldn’t add insult to their injury by taxing properties on value that’s gone.

But in a stunning development this past weekend, officials in Houston and Rockport, two areas where tens of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, announced that they would not reappraise homes or reduce their taxes. This is insanely unfair treatment of homeowners who have already suffered enough.

Why? According to Houston and Rockport officials, it’s a hassle to reappraise damaged homes. If that weren’t lame enough, one official said he simply needs the money.

Our lieutenant governor, bizarrely obsessed with bathrooms, refused to consider a bill written by someone in his own party that would have protected ordinary homeowners from this risk. The bill would have required reappraisals after a storm. Thanks to Dan Patrick, no such protection exists. As for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who often remains silent on matters related to Texas, he is, well, silent.

The root cause of our property tax crisis in Texas is this: the party-in-charge never worries about losing elections. They don’t need to spend time protecting the interests of ordinary Texans. They only care about raising campaign money from the ultra-rich and big corporations

But let the party-in-charge lose just one general election (that’s why I’m seeking the Democratic party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, to beat Dan Patrick in November 2018), and every politician in the state will suddenly discover that they are accountable to Texans. They will start with common sense action, like using The Rainy Day Fund to help Texans rebuild their communities after the rainiest day in recorded American history. They will require reappraisals of homes damaged by storms so that victims would at least feel they are being treated fairly. And they would go back to the big corporations and require them to pay the taxes that are due under the Texas Constitution.

But hand them a loss in 2018, which is what I and many Democrats are working hard to do, and watch how quickly everyone starts treating ordinary Texans fairly again.

Mike Collier is a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of Texas.

(5) comments

PD Hyatt

While I agree that the taxing districts that were in the storm zones should reduce their tax for this year, they have already spent or have plans to spend that money that is scheduled to come in. The real kicker is that once all of these destroyed homes get fixed up, well the price of the homes will go up so that the local tax accounts will fill up even more.... As for voting for a progressive leftist demo-crat, well the last one I voted for was Jimmy Carter and I doubt that I will make that mistake ever again, until Sen.John Cornyn comes up for re-election....

Jack Cross

PD. This letter is a political advertisement. Re Appraisement is a no brainer. CADS must follow state law. CADs appraise January 1, but if you house burns down on January 2, you still have to pay the full tax value. The legislature makes some exceptions for disasters. In the case of Harvey, the disaster in Galveston County occurred August 28. This means that any storm damage occurred 229 days into the year. State law requires for the remain at full market value for 226 days. Adjustments would be a percentage applied to the remaining 126 days. State law allows for a re appraisal. This call is made by the taxing bodies, not the CAD and the cities, county etc would have to pay for it. Here is the negatives of doing this. Budgets have been set and the costs would be to taxpayers which in effect would reduce what is gained. The CAD appraisers are a limited staff and they will not finish up hearing protests from taxpayers and tax agents until the end of next week and then they will be out in the field inspecting new property and following properties who pulled building permits. The CAD would have to hire contract appraisers.
Galveston County homeowners who have any type of property damage from Hurricane Harvey can NOW report that damage to the Galveston Central Appraisal District via email. The new Galveston Central Appraisal District email is harveydamage@galvestoncad.org. The CAD website has Harvey info and you can call the CAD for questions at (866) 277-4725 or (409) 935-1980.
Residential property owners can report flood, tornado or roof damage electronically and will help homeowners, next year when the property is reappraised January 1, by possibly reducing the value because of existing damage or ongoing repair work.
Keep in mind that when repairs are made and a homeowner decides to put in that extra bathroom or some other addition, it could change the CAP for over 65 and the disabled exemptions which results in higher taxes.

Diane Turski

You have just given the best reason to end gerrymandering! Politicians should have to work to earn the right to represent their constituents at all levels of government! When there is no electable alternative, there is no accountability for the politicians of the majority party!

Doyle Beard

Really now all of a sudden politicians should have to work to earn the right to represent their constituents. By why just now. The liberals never worked all they did was create give entitlements for votes. Guess some people call this work.

Mark Aaron

Doyle:[The liberals never worked all they did was create give entitlements for votes. ]

Can you cite some examples?

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