Harris County taxpayers could see a tax rate decrease in fiscal year 2020-21 after commissioners set the proposed FY 2020-21 tax rates for each of the county's four taxing entities during its Sept. 29 meeting. The proposed tax rates will be brought to the public and voted upon by the court at a later date.

Following a presentation by Harris County Budget Director David Berry, Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously agreed to a proposed overall Harris County tax rate of $0.59920, a decrease of $0.01250 from the overall Harris County tax rate of $0.61170 in FY 2019-20.

The proposed overall tax rate is broken down into four county taxing entities as follows: a proposed Harris County tax rate of $0.39116, down from $0.40713 in 2019-20; a proposed Flood Control District tax rate of $0.03142, up from $0.02792 in 2019-20; a proposed Harris Health System tax rate of $0.16671, up from $0.16591 in 2019-20; and a proposed Port of Houston Authority tax rate of $0.00991, down from $0.01074 in 2019-20.

According to Berry, the recommended tax rate increase for HCFCD is necessary to avoid an $18.6 million funding cut. Additionally, while Berry noted the Harris Health System is currently in strong financial shape, uncertainties remain surrounding the entity's future needs as it relates to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The motion was brought to the court by Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia and seconded by Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle.

“This will be our first consecutive tax reduction in at least 10 years, and I’m proud to have proposed the motion to put us on a path toward a rate cut," Garcia said in a statement. "As we all deal with a pandemic and economic crisis, my hope is that property tax relief will help our neighbors who are struggling. At the same time, essential county services must remain a priority—to both support the local economy as well as to keep us prepared for any future challenges. 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."

As the agreed upon proposed tax rates for Harris County and the Port of Houston Authority do not exceed the no-new-revenue rates, the rates will not need to be included in a public hearing prior to the court's vote. By contrast, the proposed tax rates for HCFCD and the Harris Health System will be included in a public hearing on Oct. 20.

All four tax rates will be voted upon and subsequently adopted by the court Oct. 27.