Ballot proposals could affect property tax bills

Man Inserting Voting Paper into a Ballot Box

Texas voters have two proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot May 7.

Some folks have expressed confusion about what the amendments are for, and Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), who filed the proposed amendments, has offered some explanations of each proposition, to help voters understand them

“The Secretary of State has been sending calls to my office about Propositions 1 and 2,” Bettencourt said April 8. “Many voters have been finding the ballot language confusing, and I want to clarify what these amendments actually do.”

The senator said that if Proposition 1 passes, homeowners over the age of 65 will see their “freeze values” for school taxes actually decline. Proposition 2, if it passes, “will lower independent school district property tax bills by increasing the homestead exemption that will save money for the 5.67 million homesteads in the State of Texas,” Bettencourt said.

Proposition 1

Proposition 1, on the ballot, reads: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for the reduction of the amount of a limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for general elementary and secondary public school purposes on the residence homestead of a person who is elderly or disabled to reflect any statutory reduction from the preceding tax year in the maximum compressed rate of the maintenance and operations taxes imposed for those purposes on the homestead.”

If passed, this will benefit individuals with an over 65 or disabled exemption on their homestead; they will receive a reduction on school district property taxes. Property owners over 65 or disabled will be eligible for the same percentage reduction in their school district tax rate that every-one else received in 2019 under HB 3. On average, these households will see a $110 reduction the first year and a $125 reduction in the second year; the reduction will continue to grow each year. This amendment will become effective as of Jan. 1, 2023, if it passes.

Proposition 2

On the ballot, Proposition 2 will read: “The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $25,000 to $40,000.”

Bettencourt said the intent is to help homeowners by increasing the homestead exemption amount by $15,000 per year.  As a result, the average homeowner will pay $175 less in school property taxes using the statewide average rate of $1.17 per $100 of value.

This amendment would raise the homestead property tax exemption from $25,000 to $40,000.

On average, the 5.67 million homesteads in Texas will see a $175 savings in their school district tax bill at the current average statewide school property tax rate. If passed, the effective date is Jan. 1, 2022, “so homeowners will see the savings when they receive their property tax bill this fall,” said Sen. Bettencourt.

This exemption increase would be a permanent and ongoing benefit to homeowners.

The senator assures school districts that they won’t lose funding if voters approve the propositions.

“If one or both of these amendments passes, no school district will lose any revenue they are entitled to receive from the school funding formulas,” according to Bettencourt. “State dollars will replace any local dollars that a school district would otherwise lose from the passage of these amendments.”

Vote Saturday!

Voters can cast ballots on these two proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution in the general elections, this Saturday, May 7.

For La Vernia-area voters — box numbers 311, 312, 313, and 415 — voting on Saturday will take place at the La Vernia Church of Christ, 131 Industrial Drive in La Vernia, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.