Spring, February 8 – Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark have proposed a resolution for the February 14, 2017, Commissioners Court Agenda to support efforts by the Texas Legislature to bring about meaningful property tax reform. Citizens who pay taxes, however, cannot afford to wait for the Legislature to adopt meaningful tax reform, while the Montgomery County Commissioners Court fails to address the truest form of “tax reform” of all: drastically reducing the Montgomery County’s spending largesse which has grown 428% since 2000 while population growth has only been 84% during that time period. Clark recognized the first priority of spending reductions at the local level to achieve true property tax reform when he said, “Property tax reform is a huge undertaking and it involves many tax entities and state and local public officials. We must start at home by reducing spending and using better budgeting methods.”
Commissioner Noack has argued on previous occasions that spending growth should be substantially slower than population growth, because local governments should achieve economies of scale when they expand programs to meet growing numbers of citizens enjoying those services. Noack said, “I am calling on our legislators to recognize our support and assist us in this battle to relieve our residents from these unnecessary and burdensome taxes.”
Noack’s and Clark’s resolution proposed to the Commissioners Court also supports:
(1) Senator Brandon Creighton’s Senate Bill 2 which would lower the rollback tax rate from 8 to 4 percent and mandate all members of appraisal district boards be elected officials. This proposal marks some progress but should require direct citizen election of appraisal district boards.
(2) Representative Mark Keough’s House Bill 44 which would place limitations on the appraised value of homes.
(3) Representative Will Metcalfe’s House Bill 538 which provides tax relief to Texas businesses.
The County Judge and Commissioners have attempted to blame the failure of the Texas Legislature to enact statewide legislation as the cause of massive local taxation. Citizens should make clear that the first tax reform occurs when local governments drastically reduce their spending. Huge portions of Montgomery County’s Budget includes multimillion overpayments to vendors, massive elected official salaries, nepotism, overhiring, and downright waste such as the purchase of trucks for employees and awarding of overtime and bonuses from funds that the Court had originally budgeted for road and asphalt materials for maintenance and repairs.
The proposed resolution of Commissioners Noack and Clark is commendable, and citizens should thank them, as long as they continue to focus on spending reductions as the truest form of tax reform.