Tax officials won’t reassess Hurricane Harvey-damaged homes in League City this fall.
League City council members voted Tuesday not to authorize Galveston and Harris counties to reappraise properties damaged during Hurricane Harvey.
The vote was 4-3 with Mayor Pat Hallisey absent. Mayor pro tem Todd Kinsey and councilmen Greg Gripon, Larry Millican and Hank Dugie voted to not authorize the tax reappraisals.
Dugie made the motion to not authorize the reappraisals, and councilmen Keith Gross, Nick Long and Dan Becker voted no on that motion. Gross, Long and Becker had wanted the tax reappraisals.
Dugie was in favor of the reappraisals at the Sept. 26 meeting, but changed his mind in the two weeks.
“I’ve come to conclude it’s not fair,” Dugie said. All property owners have to pay taxes based on what the property assessment was Jan. 1, he said.
Gross, Long and Becker all said it was unfair to hold property owners to a tax assessment on what their property was worth before Harvey.
Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 in Rockport, about 200 miles south of League City, but in the 72 or so hours that followed, it dumped more than 50 inches of rain in some parts of the area, swelling creeks and bayous and flooding 7,700 homes in the community.
If the council had approved the measure, the Galveston Central Appraisal District and the Harris County Appraisal District would have reappraised property in League City to determine market values after the storm and flooding.
The 7,700 flooded homes represent about 23 percent of the city’s residences, city officials said. Of the 7,700 homes, 1,450 had major damage with at least 18 inches of water inside.
PRINCIPLE OF IT
For tax purposes, a property is valued and its owner assessed taxes based on its Jan. 1 value, even if the property in question has been subsequently damaged in a flood.
Texas law does allow for the city to go back after a disaster and have an adjustment in tax appraisals, Gross said. Values and taxes for affected properties would be adjusted and the property owners’ taxes could be reduced in a reappraisal.
Appraisals should reflect fair market value of property, Gross said. It’s unfair to ask owners with flooded homes to pay a tax based on what their house was valued at before Harvey.
It’s the principle of not overcharging taxpayers that is important, Gross said.
‘NOT ABOUT RELIEF’
League City would have had to pay about $22 per parcel for the reappraisal, Chief Appraiser Tommy Watson. With about 7,700 homes damaged in the flood, the cost would be about $169,400. Watson would have to hire outside contractors to do the work, he said.
Not only would the city have to pay for the reappraisal, the city also would be out some of its revenue.
The reappraisal would have saved an average League City homeowner $102, Watson said.
Most homeowners with mortgages would never see that money, Millican said.
The measure would not offer immediate relief to residents, Millican said. If the council wanted to consider offering immediate relief, a better model might be forgiving city water bills for one or two months, he said.
“It’s not about relief,” Councilman Nick Long said. “It’s about are you going to do what is right. It’s pretty easy for me.”
Hallisey was absent from the meeting because he suffered a heart attack Tuesday. On Wednesday, he was in stable condition at a Houston hospital. He was opposed to tax reappraisal at the Sept. 26 meeting.