84(R) - 2015
House Ways & Means
House Ways & Means
Relating to the calculation of the rollback tax rate of a school district.
A fiscal note dated April 20, 2015 indicates that passage of the bill would provide a revised procedure for calculating a school district rollback tax rate in certain school districts. The proposed new procedure could result in higher tax rates in some instances. In those instances there would be a gain to the affected school districts.
House Bill 964 would amend Section 26.08 of the Tax Code related to elections to ratify school taxes to change the procedure used to calculate the rollback tax rate in some school districts.
Concerned school districts would be those whose maintenance and operation tax rate for the 2005 tax year was $1.50 or less per $100 of taxable value, whose adopted tax rate was approved at an election in the 2006 tax year or any subsequent year. The new procedure would only apply to such a school district if it has adopted a tax rate equal to or higher than the rate provided by that subsection for any of the preceding 10 tax years.
The rollback tax rate for these school districts would be the higher of the amount computed under Subsection 26.08(n) of the Tax Code, or the sum of the highest maintenance and operations tax rate adopted by the district for the 2007 tax year or any subsequent tax year and the district current debt rate.
Vote Recommendation Notes
Under current law, a school district must hold an election to have voters approve -- or not -- the adoption of a tax rate that is higher than the rollback tax rate for the district.
The statement of purpose for House Bill 964 argues that this requirement must be met even when a school district is attempting to increase the tax rate to a rate that is lower than a rate previously approved by the voters and also when a district is attempting to reduce the tax rate to a rate that is still above the rollback tax rate, and as a consequence there is concern, due to the expense of conducting an election, that this requirement creates an unnecessary financial burden on school districts and that the requirement reduces local control over the tax rate.
But local control should be about voter control, not taxing unit control. Voter approval of tax rates higher than the rollback tax rate are all about local control and are a necessary safeguard to protect property owners from unreasonable tax rates and growth in property taxes, even if a higher tax rate was approved in preceding years.
According to the fiscal note for the bill, the proposed new procedure in House Bill 964 could result in higher tax rates in certain cases, resulting in a gain for the affected school district.
A step in the right direction would be to try and stop the growth in local property taxes, not give more flexibility to tax districts to decide on the tax rate. We oppose House Bill 964.