Harris County not raising property taxes after Harvey, and other things to know from the Sept. 26 commissioners court meeting

Harris County Commissioners Court meets to consider its mid-year review.

Harris County Commissioners Court meets to consider its mid-year review.

Harris County commissioners met Tuesday morning to discuss the county's mid-year budget review, property taxes and the updates on the toll taken by Hurricane Harvey. Here are four things to know from the meeting.


1. The combined Harris County property tax rate will not change.
Harris County is not expected to adopt the tax rate for the 2017-18 fiscal year until its Oct. 10 meeting. But commissioners at the mid-year budget review committed to not increasing the combined rate, which will remain at $0.62998 per $100 of valuation.

Minor changes are proposed for the separate jurisdictions making up the overall rate. The tax rate for the Port of Houston will decrease from $0.01334 to $0.01256 per $100 valuation, and the rate for the Hospital District will decrease from $0.17179 to $0.17110 per $100 valuation.

Meanwhile, the rate for the Flood Control District will increase from $0.02829 to $0.02831 per $100 valuation, and the county's property tax rate will increase from $0.41656 to $0.41801 per $100 valuation.





2. Every two days, the county hauls away as much debris as it did during the entirety of the Tax Day flood aftermath.
Since flooding from Harvey occurred, county officials have inspected over 550,000 homes in unincorporated Harris County, according to County Engineer John Blount. As of Tuesday morning, the county has hauled off more than 500,000 cubic yards of debris.

The first of three passes for debris removal is expected to have taken place by the end of October.

"Every two days we haul as much debris as we did in during the Tax Day flood," Blount said, referring to a wide-scale flooding event that took place in Harris County last April.

Blount said all traffic signals have been repaired and all road repairs that were required after the flood are either completed or underway. Of 55 county buildings that were damaged, 17 remain unsafe to occupy, including the Criminal Justice Center and jury assembly room downtown.

Blount said those 17 buildings are either being repaired or the county is seeking a consultant to perform the bulk of the repairs.





3. Many changes are being considered by the Harris County Flood Control District in response to the floods.
Solutions being considered to improve flood mitigation in Harris County include:

  • new reservoirs

  • fundamental changes or enhancements to waterways

  • home buyout


Some of the larger-scale improvements will require financial help from the federal government and the State of Texas, officials said.

"Flood control needs a multi-decade plan of where to go forward," Budget Chief Bill Jackson said. "We’ll have to see what those numbers are and put together a plan that is affordable that we can work though.





4. The budget office is preparing for a potential blow to property tax revenue next year.
Harris County is bracing for a decrease in property tax revenues due to home values taking a hit countywide after properties are reappraised Jan. 1, 2018.

"Harvey will deal a financial punch to us extremely hard next year because we primarily receive our operating budgets and funds from property taxes," Jackson said. "Many of these homes will not be resorted to their original values for a long time, especially not by Jan. 1."

Jackson said it is not yet known what the full effect of the drop in appraised value will be. He said many county departments will likely have to pass flat budgets, and some could see their budgets cut by as much as 5 percent.

"Even if we keep [budgets] flat, a lot of these departments have building costs that go up every year, so elected officials and department heads are going to have to work on managing that," Jackson said.

County Judge Ed Emmett acknowledged that some property owners will pay taxes based on home appraisals set before their homes were damaged by flooding. He pointed out that many people with damaged homes will get new appraisals on Jan. 1, make repairs to their homes throughout 2018 and will get to pay lower taxes that year even as their homes regain value.

"Every year somebody has a change in their property—it could be a fire or flood—[that affects the value]," Emmett said. "There’s a trigger point where you say you have to go in and do something [about the appraised value], but once you go down that path it gets to be difficult because you’ll find yourself chasing that every single year."


By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


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