In 1979, the state created central appraisal districts, CADs. Legislators wrote a tax law and appraisal procedures. The comptroller was assigned as the state bureau to be the governing agency for the districts. As the governing body, the comptroller has major influence on every aspect of the districts’ operation.

The districts must follow appraisal procedures and practices developed by the state. The comptroller’s responsibility includes training appraisers and other key district employees, training appraisal review board members and providing model hearing for the Appraisal Review Board to use.

Comptroller agents make yearly on-site visits to audit district governance, operating procedures, appraisal standards and methodologies. State agents conduct a property value study using real estate sales to ensure that districts appraise at 95 percent to 100 percent of market value.

The study is important to the state because it determines how much money the state sends to school districts. Higher appraisals benefit the state because increased appraisal values result in less money the state sends to school districts, thus shifting more tax responsibility to local property owners.

If district values are below 5 percent of what the state determines are true market values, the district must correct the deficiencies before the appraisal values are finally set in January. Noncompliant deficiencies are referred to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for enforcement.

School funding is the reason for the rise in property taxes. It is complex, loaded with formulas and not well-understood by the public. It is no secret that voters are irate over rising property taxes and this is why the governor and other candidates run on property tax reform while running away from the real problem, school finance.

Promising to fix a state problem with a local tax cap is deceiving, and really, just another unfunded state mandate. School taxes are 54 percent of all property taxes, a tax cap would not apply to school taxes. A tax cap will not lower your appraisal, there is no limit on market value.

The rules on how schools are funded has a staggering impact on both taxpayers and the quality of education. In recent years, the share of funds the state sends to school districts has declined from 48 percent to 37 percent. This results in an astonishing loss of local property tax dollars that taxpayers have to make up.

The Texas Education Agency estimates it will “recapture” $5.13 billion during the next budget period, up from $3.69 billion in the current budget. Freeing up state money for school funding allows the state to use local property taxes for programs other than education. It’s really a tool to help balance the budget.

School districts already saddled with shrinking state revenue for operations and paying salaries to keep good teachers, now are having to ask taxpayers to pay more taxes for school bonds.

Tying the hands of local governing bodies with an open-ended tax rate cap, that does not include schools, appraisal values or service fees may get you elected if enough people buy into it, but it would not fix or change anything.

Jack Cross lives in Texas City.

Locations

(34) comments

Doyle Beard

Jack I agree school funding is a culprit in the rising taxes. Everyone including myself is for quality education and quality facilities. When and if the state ever decides to move on this they will get the money from somewhere which in the longrun will be the taxpayers. People who think as some politicians do about abolishing the property tax are dreaming if they think the is the total amswer. If aboloshied the money will come from somewhere in order to finance counties, cities and school.
All want the services they receive now but complain about taxes. Mind you I think we need a fair tax plan and and best way is to maybe try and cut out out any waste. You and I both know taxes are not going away. Either you pay this way or that way. I do feel we need some tax reform but cutting out property tax is not the answer. Death and taxes will never be avoided, you can bet the farm on this.
people get agog when a politician says we eliminating property taxes but better realize what will take its place may not be any different in the long run.

Ray Taft

Politicians running on tax reform are being dishonest. Really? President Trump lowered and reformed federal income taxes just like candidate Trump said he would do. It’s the politicians and their cronies who are being dishonest when they say it cannot be done.

President Trump is moving forward with many reforms that many said could not be done. Trump has shown it can be done, causing much consternation among the political class. Let’s make Texas great and drop the pretense that reform can’t be done. Things can be reformed. It only takes the will to do it.

Gary Miller

Eliminate the spending that results in the need for increased taxes. Make it illegal for taxes to be "donated" to any political spending. Nearly all local school taxes are donated to politicians. Public schools get the same state and federal funding as charter schools. Local taxes are used mostly to support politicians.

Gary Scoggin

President Trump carried forth these tax reforms by growing the federal deficit. Our state and local governments don't have this luxury, thank God.

Ken Hufstetler

If you want the truth straight up, talk to Jack Cross. He has studied this issue more than anyone I know. Listen to what he tells you.

Jose' Boix

Agree with you Ken!

Gary Scoggin

For anyone who advocates cutting or capping property taxes, I would like to hear SPECIFICALLY what spending cuts you would make. "Cutting waste" doesn't count as an answer -- that's just another way of saying "I don't know."

For those advocating getting rid of property taxes (I'm looking at you, Mayes Middleton), I want to know SPECIFICALLY how you would fund schools and essential government services.

Curtiss Brown

Thank you, Jack Cross, for your insightful and intelligent analysis.

Carol Dean

It is not too late to address your questions and concerns to Mayes Middleton, candidate for District 23 representative! Contact him before you vote. He will steer you straight!

Gary Scoggin

I'm just going by what Mr. Middleton's statements that he wants to eliminate property taxes. I'm just taking him at his word. What he hasn't said is how he intends to fund government.

Carol Dean

Since most of us want LESS government, maybe there will be Less to pay for!

Carol Dean

Here is Mr. Middleton's phone number! 409-443-7713

Jim Forsythe

Jack , as always, very good job of helping to make it understandable. Thanks

Carol;,when you say less government, what does that mean, less people, less services or it something else?
Please detail what it means, so as to leave no dought to what you mean.

Carlos Ponce

Jim, part of less government means self-reliance.
This womb to the tomb, cradle to the grave entitlement mentality leads to a lack of developmental maturity. Government should be there as a safety net not day to day, week to week, year to year care under normal circumstances. The Japanese have a saying: good school, good job, good life. Most schools are good but there are many students who clown around and barely get by. Instead of graduating with college or job skills they head straight for the unemployment line or low pay jobs. The United States needs people with technological skills but have to import from foreign countries to fill the void.
Too many college students are there to play or go after majors with little job potential. Note the large number who go to Galveston, Padre Island or Florida beaches and act like complete fools while their parents bankroll their shenanigans.
I spoke with a man who used to speak at career day in local schools. He now refuses to. Students want to to start at the top instead of working their way up. Too many think they have a career in professional sports. Only a few make it and those that do have short careers. Honor the collegiate athlete who not only represents his school but also gains an education, something to fall on if their pro career plans don't pan. Now the collegiate athlete wants to be "paid" above their FREE tuition, FREE rooming, FREE meals if they are there on an athletic scholarship. Ridiculous.

Carlos Ponce

Another part of less government is the elimination of redundant government programs which repeat or overlap functions in another agency. This not only costs tax payers billions but also time as projects have to go through repeating bureaucratic red tape.
"$45 Billion Wasted in Redundant Federal Programs: GAO"
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/04/09/45-Billion-Wasted-Redundant-Federal-Programs-GAO
"Government often has 10 agencies doing one job"
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/08/billions-spent-on-duplicate-federal-programs/7435221/
"Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness - U.S. Government"
https://www.gao.gov/duplication/overview
"Additional Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Other Financial Benefits"
https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-491SP

Jim Forsythe

Carlos, I was asking Carol and I'm waiting for Carol to answer!
It may not be the same as your answer.

Carol Dean

Thanks, Carlos, you saved me a whole lot of words and time! LESS GOVERNMENT!

Doyle Beard

property taxes help schools, cities and counties. I know you don't want to hurt education and bet you don't want to do without the services you have now, so go aheadand abolish these taxes and you will probably be the first to holler.

Jim Forsythe

What would you reduce with less money coming in ? Please do not say waste. Would it be people, roads or what.

Gary Miller

Duplicate and redundent bureaucracies. As much as half our bureaucrat dominated government pays two or more agencies to do the same thing with none doing it well.
470 plus Job training programs are a sick example. Most of them have not educated any worker for what a job required. Many have more employees than students. Some have never had a student graduate to a job.

PD Hyatt

People.... To many people who are very in-efficient in what little work they get done. Governmnet continue to grow under almost every President since the peanut farmer blew up the amount of people he hired by hiring tons of them who in most people eyes do nothing that adds value to our economy.... After all if you are honest about it, government creates NO wealth as all they have ever known how to do is consume the wealth of its citizens and that is a world wide problem....

Jim Forsythe

What would you reduce with less money coming in ? Please do not say waste. Would it be people, roads or what.

Carol Dean

I agree with the comments that Carlos posted. There is too much beaurocratic "stuff" involved in our government. Let Independent Schools Systems decide what is best for them. There are tons of "entitlement" programs that are completely unnecessary as well. Keep it up and the liberals will be able to embrace their One World Order. I don't need an HOA to tell me how to live my life, living in the "country" is very rewarding and peaceful! Let the people decide what we need and want. Why do you think so many people voted for Trump in the first place. Our country is SOOOO....much better off then it was under BO. Praise the Lord, that voters saw the light! Kiss the Clintons good-bye!

Jim Forsythe

"Let Independent Schools Systems decide what is best for them" That's what they do now,please expand your thinking whit what needs to be changed with ISD.
"There are tons of "entitlement" programs that are completely unnecessary as well". What programs are you talking. Federal , State, Local? Jack is talking about State and local, so what would you eliminate?
When you are talking about One World Order, are you trying to tie it into local and state taxing.
Which part of One World Order do you believe liberals embrace?
"Let the people decide what we need and want." that is why we elect our politicians to represent us.
" Why do you think so many people voted for Trump in the first place" Trump received 46.1% of the vote.

Carlos Ponce

Trump receive 57.25% of the votes that count - the Electoral College votes as required by the Constitution.

Jim Forsythe

Carol said " Why do you think so many people voted for Trump in the first place"
Carol did not say, Trump received the most Electoral College votes .
Nowhere was Electoral College votes talked about. Trump was elected because he had the most Electoral College votes , not because he had the most popular votes.

Carlos Ponce

Trump received 62,984,825 votes. Last I heard 62,984,825 are "many people", not as many as Hillary (65,853,516) but still MANY.

Carol Dean

I don't have time to waste on your questions. If you do not know the answers, then you need to learn a lot more!

Off to get ready for tomorrow's election!!! Vote: MAYES MIDDLETON!

Jim Forsythe

You answered my questions. I hear you loud and clear.
Sometimes the lack of a answer, speaks louder than a response.

Gary Scoggin

I hear lots of talk about national issues, not state and local ones. The topic of Jack’s column was tax caps and local taxes. Mr. Middleton agrees with Abbott and Patrick that local voters aren’t smart enough to determine their own tax rates and that Austin must do it for them. So if we cut County spending, what specific cuts at the County level would you favor cutting? “Waste” doesn’t count as an answer, it just means you don’t have one.

Carol Dean

I have lots of answers, but you probably wouldn't like them.

Gary Scoggin

Actually, Carol, I'd like to hear them. If there are feasible alternatives to make material cost reductions at the County level I'd really like to know what they are.

Jim Forsythe

Carol;,when you say less government, what does that mean, less people for , less services or it something else for Texas?
Please detail what it means, so as to leave no dought to what you mean.

Curtiss Brown

Solid question, deserves a solid answer.

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