Facing a revenue cap passed by the State Legislature that goes into effect next year and significantly undermines Harris County’s ability to fund essential services and ongoing operations for years to come, Commissioners Court today, in a 3-2 vote, approved a proposal for a modest property tax rate increase for Harris County. Following two public hearings, the Court will hold a third and final public hearing and officially vote on whether to adopt the proposed rates during its regular meeting on October 8.
The proposed combined rates are for the overall property tax rate for Harris County residents, which has been 62.998 cents per $100 taxable valuation since 2007. The vote today approved a proposal that could take the overall county rate to 65.260 cents, with the average homeowner seeing a $37.65 increase on their property tax bill. This increase will help fund health care, flood control, public safety, infrastructure, libraries, and other vital services essential to the operation of Harris County and help ensure the health, safety and well-being of all residents.
Regarding the vote, Commissioner Ellis released the following statement:
“For years now, the State Legislature has steadily chipped away at local control and the revenue cap is just another example of the state undermining our ability to govern and fund county operations. Given our growing population and the major challenges we face, Harris County must be able to fund its operations. This proposal is a protective measure against the revenue cap that will impact our ability to govern for years to come.
We face many challenges in Harris County. We have the highest rate of uninsured people in the state with over 1 million people without health insurance, making the Harris County Hospital District one of the largest health care providers in the county. For years, the Hospital District has been underfunded and overburdened, and we all pay the price for that. Since 2011, the Hospital District has suffered two separate cuts to its tax rate. The decision today works to restore that rate to fund our health care facilities so it can provide the quality of care our growing county deserves.
It’s been two weeks since the two-year anniversary of Harvey, and while we are taking on the challenge of flood control with our flood bond program, adequately and equitably protecting every community from flooding remains a major priority for Harris County. The revenue cap will further limit our ability to bring in revenue to support ongoing operations for the Flood Control District that are urgently needed across the county.
Finally, we have to make sure that the county is able to fund the essential services that our residents rely on even in times of disaster or other challenges. Public safety, libraries, and infrastructure are some of our primary responsibilities and we need an economic stability fund to aid the county in meeting those obligations no matter what type of storm we must weather.”