Harris County budget office recommends tax rate decrease ahead of Sept. 29 discussion

Members of the Harris County Commissioners Court are expected to discuss where to set the property tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21 at a Sept. 29 meeting, and a recently released recommendation from the county's budget office suggests a no-new-revenue rate could be proposed to support the county's general needs. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Members of the Harris County Commissioners Court are expected to discuss where to set the property tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21 at a Sept. 29 meeting, and a recently released recommendation from the county's budget office suggests a no-new-revenue rate could be proposed to support the county's general needs. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Members of the Harris County Commissioners Court are expected to discuss where to set the property tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21 at a Sept. 29 meeting, and a recently released recommendation from the county's budget office suggests a no-new-revenue rate could be proposed to support the county's general needs. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Members of the Harris County Commissioners Court are expected to discuss where to set the property tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21 at a Sept. 29 meeting, and a recently released recommendation from the county's budget office suggests a no-new-revenue rate could be proposed to support the county's general needs.

However, officials are also proposing a tax rate increase specifically for the county's flood control district to avoid a $18.6 million cut in funding.

The overall tax rate paid by residents in Harris County is made up of four separate rates, all of which are set by the Commissioners Court. Aside from the general rate and the flood control district rate, commissioners will discuss the tax rate for the hospital district and the Port of Houston at the Sept. 29 meeting.

The county's general tax rate has historically been the biggest piece of the pie, making up about two-thirds of the overall tax rate for FY 2019-20—or $0.40713 of $0.61170. Rates for the flood control district, hospital district and Port of Houston were set at $0.02792, $0.16591 and $0.01074, respectively.

The budget office proposal would involve lowering the overall tax rate by about $0.013-$0.02. The county tax rate would be lowered to $0.39116, while the flood control district tax rate would be raised to $0.03142.


The Port of Houston tax rate—which is only used to fund debt service—would be lowered slightly to $0.00991. The budget office provided a recommended range for the hospital district of somewhere between $0.15883-$0.16671, citing the district's strong financial shape and uncertainty regarding its future needs. Commissioners will debate which direction to go at the Sept. 29 meeting.

In an email statement, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said he supported both the no-new-revenue rate for the county and the increased rate for the flood control district.

"In the midst of this pandemic, I know that our neighbors need relief, and I remain committed to doing our part in helping them in this difficult time," Garcia said. "Pandemic or not, Harris County remains at risk for devastating flooding, so this proposed tax rate does an effective job of easing the tax burden on residents while being able to continue to fund crucial county priorities."

Commissioners previously took up the conversation at an Aug. 6 meeting but declined to take any action until after appraisal rolls were certified and the Harris County Appraisal District was able to provide a clearer picture of property values in the county. At the time, Harris County Budget Director Dave Berry said a no-new-revenue tax rate could result in a $10 million budget shortfall.

With the rolls certified, the budget office has updated its projections to show tax revenue coming in at about $1.6 billion—or $38.5 million over budget—under the no-new-revenue rate. The proposed tax rate increase for the flood control district would bring in about $123.7 million—or $3.3 million more in revenue than budgeted—as opposed to a $18.6 million budget shortfall under the no-new-revenue rate.

Commissioners will not vote on a tax rate at the Sept. 28 meeting, and a date will be set within the next few weeks for when a formal vote will take place.
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.


MOST RECENT

Harris County residents line up outside of Big Stone Lodge in Spring to cast their votes early. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County early voter turnout on track to surpass total votes cast in 2016 election

All 122 early voting sites throughout Harris County will be open from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 27-29, giving voters an additional three hours to head to the polls.

A Cy-Fair ISD employee distributes meals via curbside pickup for district students during the summer. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Cy-Fair ISD reports 66 COVID-19 cases among students, staff Oct. 19-25

Cy-Fair ISD officials reported the highest number of new weekly cases since the start of the school year.

Inspired by Nashville hot chicken, the new restaurant will offer chicken tender bites, jumbo chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches and bone-in chicken with five heat level options, from "Wimpy" to "Cluckin' Hot." (Courtesy Tumble 22)
Tumble 22 to bring Nashville hot chicken to Vintage Park

Inspired by Nashville hot chicken, the new restaurant will offer chicken tender bites, jumbo chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches and bone-in chicken with five heat level options, from "Wimpy" to "Cluckin' Hot."

As the Army Corps of Engineers continues to study flood mitigation options for the Buffalo Bayou, Addicks Reservoir and Barker Reservoir watersheds, officials with the Katy Prairie Conservancy said they and a coalition of other stakeholders are urging the Corps to reassess its early findings. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Katy Prairie officials call on Army Corps to rethink flooding concepts in western Harris County

As the Army Corps of Engineers continues to study flood mitigation options for the Buffalo Bayou, Addicks Reservoir and Barker Reservoir watersheds, officials with the Katy Prairie Conservancy said they and a coalition of other stakeholders are urging the Corps to reassess its early findings.

Magnolia's First Baptist Church will host its annual pumpkin patch, featuring food and other activities, such as hay rides, "punkin' chunkin'" and photo opportunities. (Courtesy Magnolia's First Baptist Church)
Fall fun: 8 pumpkin patches to visit in North Houston

From photo opportunities to hayrides, here are a few places to put on your list this fall.

(Courtesy NewQuest Properties)
Shogun Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar opens in Spring and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Voters line up outside Juergen's Hall Community Center in Cypress on Oct. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Early-voting sites in Cy-Fair see high turnout ahead of Nov. 3 election

During the first 10 days of early voting ahead of the Nov. 3 general election, nearly 124,000 Harris County residents cast their ballots at polling locations in the Cy-Fair area.

Harris County continues to report more confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Cy-Fair area. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
387 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Cy-Fair from Oct. 19-23

Active cases locally have increased by 9% since Oct. 19, according to data from Harris County Public Health.

An election official directs a car to a spot at the Humble Civic Center's drive-thru voting location. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Supreme Court rules Harris County drive-thru, curbside voting can continue

More than 98,000 ballots cast at drive-thru polling sites across Harris County will be counted in the Nov. 3 election.

Cypress Mobile Massage opened in September. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Cypress resident opens mobile massage business

Cypress Mobile Massage opened last month.

An election official directs a car to a spot at the Humble Civic Center's drive-thru voting location. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Drive-thru voting in Harris County becomes popular and more top Houston-area news

Read top stories from the past week from the Houston area.