Countryside South and Newport are both early neighborhoods on the west side of League City. Newport established a strict policy for increasing neighborhood association dues, and when we purchased a home there in the ’90s, we were paying about $36 a year.

The neighborhood park was run down with lots of weeds and broken equipment. They couldn’t maintain their park, so they gave it to League City, who added a play set, goals, removed the unsafe junk and kept it mowed.

Countryside South has tennis courts, a private pool, modern play sets, quality landscaping and events like an Easter egg hunt where we met neighbors who became lifelong friends. Yes, the members who arrive at annual meetings have raised the fees, but what we get for the now $300 is well worth the quality community it helps us to maintain.

Our state Senate just passed a plan designed to make it harder for communities and schools to maintain our quality of life by placing unsustainable limits on elected officials’ ability to pay expenses. This will devolve into expensive yearly votes on line items like you must vote yes or water rates will double, we won’t have the money for expensive flood insurance and school buses won’t run.

The current 8 percent cap has worked through recessions, double digit interest rates and oil busts. Because property value growth averages about 4.9 percent over decades, setting a cap below growing maintenance needs will eventually make community improvements and balanced budgets impossible.

These same state leaders who have capped the state’s share of public education with Robin Hood, so it now pays about 39 percent when the state used to pay half, and pushed the burden on local property taxpayers, now want to choke the system even more rather than planning for excellence and trusting local elected leaders.

You can’t get quality for nothing, and when the next crash comes, if this group is still in power, the state will continue to be shirking their responsibility to provide a quality rather than the current “barely adequate” public education. Only now they’re trying to suck local governments into the same financial death spiral.

I remember voting for a tax rate at the legal limit when two local business closed and people were slow-pays because, as contractors, they didn’t work after the shuttle broke on re-entry. We were not forced to start foreclosure proceedings on families with bad luck that year. The 8 percent gave us some flexibility.

The next year, when people were current and new business moved in, we cut taxes and eventually voted Galveston MUD 2 out of existence. It may take voting the current Austin politicians out of their existing jobs if we want leaders who don’t hate public schools (note the tighter rate cap for schools) and are quality of life for everyday people friendly, not just business friendly.

Rodney Dunklee lives in League City.

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(11) comments

David Hardee

This article is deficient in its portrayal of the potential good benefit from taxation or modification to the form of disbursing that tax money. Use of and apportioning of Property tax is the focal point of this article. The article neglects to address the detrimental effects and inequities of the Property tax.

Every public service funded by taxes has been proven to be deteriorating over the last 60 years. The proof of the deterioration can be physically felt by every person as their automobile bumps and vibrates over the roads and is frequently stalled in a traffic jam. The statistical charts and reports illustrate the deterioration of the USA’s tax supported systems. The USA was once a leader for healthcare and education — now it ranks 27th in the world. This debacle began with the new SS/FICA/ tax that funded the “Great Society” in 1963. Several study group report –“In the 1960s and 1970s reported "the United States had the best-educated young people in the world, or pretty close to it.”

No one can doubt that the Federal tax funded health care system in the USA is in turmoil, wasteful, gouging prices, and all while producing the best medical service in the world.

Locally the Texas Property tax is the most egregious because it is exclusively been the source of bludgeoning burden on home owners. Long term investment in raw land or homes generates no income. Yet these long term investments are subjected to absurd evaluations for hypothetical/potential future profit. Any lucid mind would conclude this is fortune telling. But almost every year the (no income) long term investor/owner tax burden is increased. The future telling wedgies-board is the current real-estate SALES data manipulated by a bureaucratic Central Appraisal Board. Their formula defies the mathematics of a proper equation and produces a possibility based on if it happened. BEWARE - Government at work.

From the Tax Reporter this statement makes the point “Texas has one of the highest average property tax rates in the country, with only thirteen states levying higher property taxes.” It is worth noting the main source of funds for PUBLIC education is PROPERTY TAX. Also, many ISD’s are floundering (La Marque – gone, Houston ISD under State control, GISD and Hitchcock ISD floundering). This is the result of wasted taxes that are driving the elderly out of their homes.

Quit asking society to provide tax money to meet your wants.


Gary Scoggin

“Texas has one of the highest average property tax rates in the country, with only thirteen stats levying higher property taxes.”

Texas also has no state income tax, unlike most other states. Pick your poison.

Ron Woody

To me as a new resident of Texas it is not so much about the amount of taxes or type of taxes as it is about "Local Rule". I find it interesting and almost hypocritical that a State that thrives on its Independent personality and leave us alone we know what we are doing mentality, is so intent on telling county and municipal governments how to govern.
If revenues are an issue why not go for the easy casino/sports gambling revenue and approve that at the State Level so that local communities may begin incorporating those tax and tourism dollars into their revenue stream. OH, but wait that would mean no more fundraising dollars flowing in from the casinos in Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma. We would not want our State Legislature to pay attention to Texans!!!

Bailey Jones

I believe that citizens have the right to govern themselves and set their own local property tax rates by electing leaders who share their priorities. If you drive around the area you'll find some areas where the citizens have opted for higher taxes to pay for things like concrete roads with sidewalks and underground storm drainage. In other areas it's black top with no sidewalks and rain ditches, for instance, and lower taxes. Some small towns with large commercial tax sources are able to get by with little or no property taxes. Others have no commercial base and need higher taxes to maintain services. These are all local issues and need to be addressed by local leaders who work for local voters. As usual, Austin needs to stay out of it and stop forcing its agenda down the throats of local government.

Ron Woody

Hear! Hear!

Gary Miller

New population generates local government income. The homes they build now pay more taxes than whole neighborhoods of older homes. The only place higher property taxes are needed is where management is so bad population is shrinking or static. Smarter voters would elect smarter government.

Don Schlessinger

I'm all for a low tax cap, especially in Galveston where our government favors tourists over tax paying citizens (home owners). In our mayor's April guest column he spent half of his discussion telling us how we who pay PROPERTY TAX need to support TOURISM by allowing him and his gang of city councilmen raise taxes when they want and on what they want. And in Galveston it's the tourists at the front of the line and citizens at the end.. The mayor did mention residents in his column once regarding the fact that a small city of 50K needs to pay for infrastructure improvements for TOURISM. I want the ability to say no, and having a low tax cap will allow me to do that.

Don Schlessinger

OOPS: The mayor's April 3 guest column.

Wayne Holt

I just saw the assessed valuations for our entire downtown mixed use building, including residential and commercial space, increase by 30% YOY. This at a time that Realtors were reporting LOWER downtown sales while ignoring comparables right around us.

I think politicians should probably expect increased push-back when the only thing that seems to remain stagnant is the income of most residents who must pay these sharply higher demands. It's not a good time to be exhorting the masses to pay more and pay up now.

Michael Byrd

"Low local tax cap will hamstring city leaders"... "Exorbitant evaluations are hamstringing homeowners"

Miceal O'Laochdha

You are absolutely correct Mr. Byrd. Our modest property has gone up every year since purchasing it in 2013 and the latest valuation represents a 150% increase from the valuation for the previous owner when sold to us. Annual visits to protest are a trip to the Magic Theatre for Madmen Only (credit to Hesse).

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