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Houston Mayor Wants 9% Property Tax Hike to Pay for Harvey Damage

Houston Mayor Wants 9% Property Tax Hike to Pay for Harvey Damage

It’s not about the money

Houstonians grappling with Harvey damage are not pleased with Mayor Turner’s latest proposal — a 8.9% property tax rate hike to pay for the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Turner’s rate hike request is temporary (supposedly) and would generate an estimated $113M for the city. But it has to pass city counsel scrutiny first.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Turner’s proposal, which will begin with a series a public hearings later this month and reach a formal vote in mid-October, would increase the property tax rate from 58.64 cents per $100 of appraised value to 63.87 cents.

That is what the city’s tax rate was four years ago, before a 13-year-old voter-imposed limit on Houston’s property tax collections began forcing City Council to cut the rate each year to avoid bringing in more revenue than allowed.

Turner is able to propose an increase beyond the strictures of the so-called revenue cap by declaring an emergency, allowing the city to collect a projected $113 million for one year.

Debris removal could cost more than $200 million and will require the city to foot 10 percent of the bill without being reimbursed by the federal government. Houston also lost 334 city vehicles and saw the municipal courts building, City Hall and its adjacent annex, and two sewage treatment plants knocked offline by flooding.

“If this is not an emergency, I don’t know what is. What we’re able to recoup from one year, the $113 million, will not even be enough to cover the expenses we will have incurred,” Turner said Monday. “What we don’t get from the feds we’ll have to come up with ourselves. I would be not doing my job if I did not advance it.”

Houston already has a controversial ‘rain tax’ that’s supposed to generate $125M annually for the city. So where’s that money going? One city counsel member wants to know and filed a complaint last year.

With the average home inside of the city limits valued at $225,000, an estimated $117 property tax hike per year isn’t all that terrible, but for residents impacted by Harvey, it’s not about the money.

Many Houstonians dealing with flooded homes are outside of flood planes and without flood insurance. In fact, fewer than 20% of Harvey’s flood victims cary flood insurance. This group is having a particularly difficult time obtaining assistance to repair their ruined homes. And now the city is considering a property tax hike? Talk about adding insult to injury in the worst of ways.

Mayor Turner handled the storm as well as anyone in his position could’ve; Houston seems united in this sentiment. But in the aftermath, it’s hard to stomach requests to open our wallets further when we’ve watched tax money pay for Turner’s trip to the Super Bowl and a light rail system no one uses, among other unnecessary vanity expenses.

Houston communities are helping one another recover, and the government is doing what governments do best — use a disaster as reason to jack up taxes. Just plain shameful.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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Guess what? The cumulative value of residential real estate in Houston dropped by a bunch. A $250,000 home that had water flow through it 6 feet deep, is NOT worth $250,000 anymore.

Even if they replace all the floors and the drywall – it still is not worth $250,000.

So, realistically, property taxes are all going to have to be recalculated downward. Not raised.

    94Corvette in reply to MattMusson. | September 12, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    The problem is that the property taxes that will be coming due are determined by two factors; the alleged value of the property as of January 1 and the tax rate. Even without changing the tax rate, if the appraised value of your home goes up, your taxes go up. Any tax ‘relief’ a homeowner may get as a result of a diminished valuation won’t be seen until next year.

Houston enacted a ‘rain tax’ a few years ago to fund water diversion projects. A business is actually taxed on how much parking lot they have. To date, they’ve not spent any of the millions collected. The city has money for all sorts of vanity programs and lawsuits against the state about the sanctuary city penalties. This proposal is all about funding the liabilities the city has for its retirement programs. You figure, 20% of the $200 million garbage expense is just $20 mill. The loss of 334 vehicles is incredibly stupid as these could have easily been moved to safe areas. His timing is really stupid as well as we’re just now coming to grips with what is going to be needed for recovery. One wonders just who is coordinating the risk management for the city and failed to place the proper insurance policies in place to protect the city if they are so risk sensitive.

Because these people don’t have enough extra expenses to deal with right now, eh mayor? Way to add insult to injury.

btw – only about 28% of the homes damaged in this flood had flood insurance.

Another “temporary” tax that will live forever. I say no.

    Another “temporary” tax that will live forever? Whaddya mean?

    Massachusetts made sure that its temporary 3 percent sales tax, enacted in 1966, was just that — temporary.

    How did they manage to pull it off? By raising the rate, of course. Currently we’re cruising at an altitude of 6.25%.

Why is it that these idiots need to pay for everything with one years property taxes? Can’t they issue a bond to cover the cost and pay the bond off over 10 or 30 years?

Is it clear yet that your leaders see you as nothing but farm animals needing to be milked?

Well, the money has to come from somewhere.

THAT somewhere should come from a bond issue, with people who have the money buying the bonds and taking the tax advantages on the interest they bear.

Win-win. Seems to me…

    RasMoyag in reply to Ragspierre. | September 13, 2017 at 11:53 am

    And who do u think repays the bond holders at maturity? Those magic unicorns that don’t live in Houston? Selling bonds, if possible, does not remove the financial responsibility from the citizens of Houston. It just moves it from today to years from now. Which isn’t to say it is a bad idea but it does not change the ultimate financial responsibility and obligation.

      Ragspierre in reply to RasMoyag. | September 13, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      Yeah, you really don’t want to talk down to me, ace.

      Engineers and chemists look to “rate issues” and “point loads”, as do those of us who understand economics.

      A rotting log releases pretty much the same compounds as you find in a fire that burns the log, but over a MUCH longer period.

      An I-beam can support a MUCH larger load distributed over its length than one concentrated in the mid=point.

      So, OF COURSE, the rate-payers of Houston repay the bonds, but not in the year of their extremity.

      BTW, one of our local talk guys has suggested selling off some of Houston’s park land and old-fashioned libraries (replaced by store-front satellites in the areas of actual need). He’s a former councilman, so he has some basis for knowing what he’s talking about.

Never let a crisis go to waste…

The mayor is a democrat; that explains it.

As the Democrats say, “Never let an opportunity go to waste.”

So the money to rebuild public infrastructure is supposed to come from where? The sky? Hidden assets? Magic? Imagination? It seems to me quite reasonable that the people of Houston pay to have their own public services rebuilt. Now you can make an arguement that every citizen of the USA should contribute something, but that doesn’t negate the responsibility lying primariy on those who benefit directly from the rebuilt services.

The grasshoppers in charge of Houston should have prepared better. Insurance should cover most of the damage to municipal assets. If the city had such insurance. If it is self-insured, well that might be a problem. But, it should have been planned for. Now, if the city really wants to fairly spread this shortfall around, it should increase the sales tax in the city. This would fairly distribute the cost of rebuilding among ALL of the residents of the city. Of course, it will likely drive some business out, or they simply will not return. But those are the breaks.

As to residents of the Bayou City not having flood insurance, such stupidity is not even worthy of comment. Flood insurance costs about $500 a year. I live in an area of Florida where I have to carry standard homeowners, w/o windstorm coverage, windstorm insurance [at a phenomenal cost] and flood insurance, if I want full coverage on my home. So, when people are crying that they can’t afford to rebuild their flood ravaged home, because they didn’t want to carry flood insurance in a city nick named the Bayou City, I really can’t work up to much sympathy for them.

Now, I am sitting in my house running my internet and phone connection on its battery back-up, which I just finished putting a small charge on from my generator. I have been without power for 4 days. I do have water, a stock of food, a fueled up gas grill for cooking and plenty of fuel for the generator, which runs about four hours a day to keep my refrigerator and freezers cold and to charge up various appliances. I was lucky to have no significant structural damage, just tree damage. So, the family and I will just keep camping out at the old homestead, until the power comes back on. There has been flooding, both rising water and storm surge, in parts of Florida, along with significant structural damage. That is why we have insurance.