Conroe, March 27 – The giant issue on the Montgomery County Commissioners Court Agenda for Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., is whether the Court will adopt Republican Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack’s proposal to increase the residential homestead exemption from 10% to 20% based upon the clear presentation of County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae on the minimal impact that proposal would have on County spending priorities. Since the February 14, 2017, Court meeting where the Commissioners Court voted down a similar proposal 2 (Noack, Clark) to 3 (Doyal, Riley, Meador), Noack has received some important support for this critical property tax relief proposal. The Montgomery County Republican Party’s Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly to urge the County to adopt a 20% homestead exemption for County property taxes and to cut County spending overall.
The County GOP Executive Committee voted decisively on February 28, at the quarterly meeting under the leadership of County GOP Chairman Walter D. Wilkerson, Jr., to endorse the proposal calling for the County to adopt a 20% homestead exemption. Local GOP and conservative political activist Bill O’Sullivan said, “Any time you restrict the government’s ability to get into your wallet, it’s a good thing.”
Republican Precinct 50 Chairman Reagan Reed, one of the 89-member GOP Executive Committee, explained, “When all was said and done, the resolution passed overwhelmingly…Now I would like to see Judge Doyal, Meador, and Riley explain why they are opposed to the Republican Party’s official call for [this] tax relief.” The County Republican Executive Committee simply could not have been more clear in its support for the 20% homestead exemption proposal of Commissioner Noack.
Noack was elected in 2012 after a multi-candidate hotly-contested Republican Primary Election. Noack, a resident of The Woodlands, is a longtime Republican activist himself. He explained to The Golden Hammer that he has been deeply committed to Republican Party principles of lower taxes and lower government spending his entire adult life.
McRae explained at the February 14 Commissioners Court meeting that a 20% homestead exemption would likely increase the amount of money in the hands of taxpayers by $27.743 million per year. This massive revenue increase would assist County taxpayers make ends meet and increase their ability to keep their homes, despite the efforts of Commissioners Riley and Meador and the remaining members of the Montgomery County Appraisal District Board to increase appraised values rapidly in order to increases tax collections to permit the County government to increase spending massively.
McRae noted that the Commissioners Court must set the homestead exemption before July 1 for the following fiscal year, which begins October 1. At least 100 counties provide the full 20% homestead exemption. Neighboring Fort Bend, Galveston, and Harris counties all provide the full 20% homestead exemption, according the data McRae presented from the Texas Association of Counties.
At present, the Montgomery County government has a spending explosion increasing almost at the full amount of appraisal district property valuation increases each year. The County government’s spending has grown 428% since 2000, while the population growth during that time period has only been 84%. The County has failed to achieve any economies of scale contravening fundamental principles of sound management, which have been known for hundreds of years since the economic writing of Adam Smith and more recently since the detailed statistical and historical analysis of RAND Corporation economist Fredrick T. Moore, which he presented to the American Statistical Association on December 29, 1953, under the compelling title “Economies of Scale: Some Statistical Evidence.” Rather than reducing spending growth as the population has increased, as historical and economic data would predict, the Montgomery County government’s complete management failure has produced a direct diseconomy of scale.
McRae discussed the homestead exemption under Texas Property Tax Code Section 11.13(n), which provides:
“In addition to any other exemptions provided by this section, an individual is entitled to an exemption from taxation by a taxing unit of a percentage of the appraised value of his residence homestead if the exemption is adopted by the governing body of the taxing unit before July 1 in the manner provided by law for official action by the body. If the percentage set by the taxing unit produces an exemption in a tax year of less than $5,000 when applied to a particular residence homestead, the individual is entitled to an exemption of $5,000 of the appraised value. The percentage adopted by the taxing unit may not exceed 20 percent.”
McRae noted that since October 1, 2016, appraisals in Montgomery County have already increased $2,751,652,521, which is almost $2.8 Billion. Increased appraisals under the appraisal tax increases, which Riley and Meador have led, should easily provide enough increased spending revenue to permit taxpayers a bit of tax relief.
Noack has strongly supported property tax relief both within Montgomery County and statewide. He has worked closely with Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, Senator Brandon Creighton (R-The Woodlands), and Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston). Noack and Reed have also worked closely with longtime County GOP Chairman Wilkerson to bring about this tax relief which has become a basic policy of the Montgomery County Republican Party.
Since Doyal, Riley, and Meador were elected to their positions as Republicans, citizens should hope that they will follow the basic policy positions and Platform of the Republican Party.