Galveston County judge working on property value assessment reform for upcoming legislative session

During Galveston County Judge Mark Henry’s State of the County address April 27, he revealed he is aiming to have property value assessment reform as part of the 2023 state legislative session. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
During Galveston County Judge Mark Henry’s State of the County address April 27, he revealed he is aiming to have property value assessment reform as part of the 2023 state legislative session. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

During Galveston County Judge Mark Henry’s State of the County address April 27, he revealed he is aiming to have property value assessment reform as part of the 2023 state legislative session. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

During an April 27 State of the County address, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said he wants to include property value assessment reform as part of the 2023 state legislative session.

For the last 11 years under Henry’s leadership, Galveston County has reduced its tax rate total of 33%, and officials are aiming for another drop this year, Henry said.

However, while the county’s tax rate is decreasing, the amount residents pay in taxes to the county could be rising, he said.

This is because the state of Texas, not counties, assess valuations for county properties, Henry said, adding when residents’ properties are assessed at a greater amount than the tax rate drops, they still end up paying more in property taxes than the previous year.

The state cannot continue to assess residents’ property values at the maximum amount year after year because that is “killing people,” he said.


For that reason, Henry said he is working to introduce and pass reform measures in the upcoming legislative session.

Beyond tax reform discussion, Henry cited a report from www.smartasset.com stating Galveston County is ranked second in Texas and fifth in the nation for hosting small businesses.

As one example, he said an ammonia plant that is coming to Texas City that will immediately bring $2 million in county tax revenue.

“I think we’re [different] because ... we’re very responsive. We’re very pro-business,” he said. “As a result of this, we have seen more interest in [commercial and industrial development] in Galveston County than we have in 10 years at least.”

Additionally, several county facilities are being upgraded, including the North County Annex in League City, which is undergoing $12.2 million in renovations and will be completed in spring 2023. The work will add nearly 11,000 square feet to the facility, bringing it up to 27,645 square feet total.

The county is also updating its medical examiner office with better technology, a $6.5 million project with completion expected this fall. An $8.3 million overhaul will upgrade the county’s Road & Bridge building, with Phase 1 expected to be completed this summer and full completion coming spring 2023, Henry said.

When asked about the state of the coastal spine project, Henry said the Army Corps of Engineers has funded some portions of the project to the east but none in Galveston County. Henry said he expects once final plans are made that hundreds of lawsuits will be filed.

“Once the final plans are finalized there’s going to be a lot of people who are mad for one reason or another,” he said. “We will continue pushing it; I am just fearful for the next step.”

Galveston County is continuing to send law enforcement to Kinney County, which borders Mexico and has only six deputies of its own dealing with illegal aliens, gangs and even terrorists, Henry said. The county’s judge called Henry and couldn’t thank Galveston County enough for lending aid, Henry said.

“It’s going to come here, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” he said of the illegal activity in Kinney County.

Finally, when asked about the Grand Parkway, Henry said the process is slow. The Grand Parkway was always designed to be a toll road, but then the state said no to more toll roads, which makes it difficult to find a way to make the Grand Parkway feasible, Henry said.

“No road is free,” he said. “It’s our challenge now to figure out how to move the Grand Parkway forward.”
By Jake Magee

Editor, Bay Area & Pearland/Friendswood

Jake has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper. Today, he covers everything from aerospace to transportation to flood mitigation.