Members of the Tarrant County Commissioners Court received an update about the current 88th session of the Texas Legislature from Tarrant County Administrator G.K. Maenius on March 21. His remarks focused on bills that have been introduced in the session concerning the reduction of property tax burdens on residents.

“There are several bills that are in the Legislature now talking about school tax rate reform and valuations and also county valuations and the amount of taxable value being placed on those,” Maenius said.

He went on to say that while currently there is a 10% cap on property tax increases for homesteads, bills have been introduced that cap it at 5% and even 2.5%.

“When those bills come forward, we will speak with the county’s position on that. And that is we’re for tax reform and things that will help the taxpayer,” Maenius said.

The current legislative session began Jan. 10 and will end May 29. As the session heads into the second half, Maenius is confident that legislation when it comes to property tax relief will pick up speed and support.

“I think that as we go farther down into the session, we’re going to hear about different ways of lowering the valuations,” he said.

The House and the Senate have made property tax and appraisal reform priority issues through House Bill 2 (Rep. Morgan Meyer), Senate Bill 3 (Sen. Paul Bettencourt), SB 4 (Bettencourt) and SB 5 (Sen. Tan Parker). According to the Texas Legislature website, HB 2 would lower the cap on yearly appraisal increases from 10% to 5% and apply to all properties in Texas, rather than just homesteads. SB 3 would increase the homestead exemption for school districts from $40,000 to $70,000. SB 4 would reduce the maximum compressed tax rate for school districts from 90% to 80%. SB 5 would increase the exemption for income-producing tangible personal property from $2,500 to $25,000.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks agreed with Maenius’s approach to stay the course until it’s time to make the county’s take on property tax reform known.

“Right now, bills are all over the place,” Brooks said. “I don’t think it would do us much good to stake out a position on each bill. But when it looks like one is going to come forward that has major support, at that point we may want to take a position.”