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Tuesday, January 8 is the first day of the 86th Texas Legislature, and property taxes will be one of the biggest battles facing cities this year. The APA Texas Chapter joins the Texas Municipal League, and its affiliates, in opposing Governor Abbott's plan to cap property tax revenue growth, which would affect vital city services people and businesses depend on. The issue with this plan is that it doesn’t address the root cause of our increasing property taxes: our school finance system.

This position should not be viewed as APATX’s support for raising taxes, but instead as recognition that cities are more aware of their financial needs than the State. Cities’ solvency and access to financial resources is critical to furthering the planning profession and its values.

If you own property in Texas, you know property taxes are high and keep going up. This is because the state legislature continues to cut the state share of funding for public schools and counts on rising property taxes to make up the difference.

On average in Texas, 55% of your property taxes goes to school districts, with only 16% going to city services. Limiting increases in the 16% of property taxes that goes towards basic city services won’t result in real tax relief for Texans. We need our state officials to fix the broken school finance system that is driving up our property taxes, and let cities work with residents to fund basic city services like fire and police protection, libriaries, parks and recreation, and flood control. 

A short video on Property Taxes has been produced by the Texas Municipal League to help summarize the key issues:

In Texas, state government provides no funding for city services aside from small grant programs, so it is up to cities to find ways to pay for the state’s growing needs. And this works best when elected local leaders work directly with the citizens who elect them to identify specific services that fit the needs of their community. A one-size fits all approach the State wants to implement does not work for the 1,216 incorporated cities in Texas. 

The most important decisions we must make as a community involve the level of services we want and how much we are willing to pay for them. Those decisions should be made by you and the people you and your neighbors elect locally to lead your community and not legislators down in Austin.

Please contact your state representative and tell them to oppose any type of revenue cap that would affect your city services. To find your representative, visit: https://www.house.texas.gov/members/find-your-representative/.  Note that your representative may have changed based on the election results from November 2018. If that is the case, this is a great time to contact your new representative.  Texas legislators assume office on January 8.