David O’Brien has a front row seat to what experts call a housing affordability crisis.
“I have never seen a worse housing market for low to moderate income than what we’ve experienced the last two years,” said O’Brien, executive director at Housing Opportunities of Fort Worth, Inc. “It’s just brutal.”
Bills reflecting tax cuts for homeowners are already in Tarrant County residents’ mailboxes, but it will take voters’ approval in November to make the bottom line official.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a tax cut package in July, lowering the school district’s property tax rate and increasing the state-mandated homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000, which voters will have to approve on Nov. 7 before it goes into effect.
The proposed constitutional amendment is one of four proposals that could have an impact of resident’s property tax bills.
Propositions 2, 3, 4 and 10 would make changes to taxing policies.
Proposition 2 would reduce property taxes for child care centers that have at least 20% of their enrolled students on scholarships. If approved, the amendment would allow cities and counties to decide whether or not to cut property taxes for child care centers.
“Prop 2 is a step in the right direction toward supporting the industry that really is the backbone of all other industries in our state,” said Bethany Edwards, director of the Fort Worth-based Early Learning Alliance.
Proposition 3 would prevent the state from easily adopting a wealth tax or a tax on a person based on the value of their assets.
Proposition 10 would exempt equipment held by medical or biomedical manufacturers from taxation, the ballot language says the exemption would strengthen the state’s medical supply chain.
Proposition 4 contains four different changes related to property taxes. If passed, the proposition would:
- Place a temporary appraisal limit on properties that are worth less than $5 million and don’t receive a homestead exemption. If approved, it would prevent appraisals from rising more than 20% each year until 2026.
- Increase the state’s school district homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000.
- Expand the number of businesses who do not have to pay state franchise tax.
- Allow voters to elect three members to their local appraisal district. Currently, board of directors’ members are appointed by local taxing entities.
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce supports propositions 2, 3, 4 and 10.
“Proposition 4 represents a crucial compromise to lessen the burden of property taxes, supporting property owners and fostering economic prosperity,” the chamber said in a statement. “We urge eligible voters to consider these propositions carefully and participate in the election to shape a brighter future for Fort Worth and Texas.”
Housing prices are typically the biggest barrier for low and moderate income homeowners, O’Brien said. Other factors though, such as taxes and insurance can also be barriers to entry.
“We pay very high property taxes in the state of Texas and that is a consideration many people have,” O’Brien said. “I think the new bill, I think anytime you up the homestead exemption, across the board, it is a positive thing.”
The changes would coincide with several Tarrant County taxing entities lowering their property tax rates below the no-new-revenue rate. Every taxing entity is required to produce a no-new-revenue rate, which is the rate that would produce the same amount of income if applied to the same properties taxed in both years.
Tarrant County, Fort Worth ISD, JPS Hospital District, Tarrant Regional Water District and Tarrant County College all passed a rate lower than the no-new-revenue rate. The result, if voters approve Proposition 4, is a tax bill $643 lower for a home appraised at the average market value.
“One of the good things about the increase in the homestead exemption is that it’s permanent,” James Quintero, director of the Center for Local Governance at conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation previously told the Report. “Because what voters are doing in November is affirming or rejecting, including this provision in the Texas constitution.”
There will be 10 other propositions and several school bond elections also on the ballot in November. Early voting begins Oct. 23. Voters can find out if they’re registered to vote and the closest voting location here.
The state wants to create a broadband fund thanks to a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot. What would Fort Worth, Tarrant County gain?
The League of Women Voters of Tarrant County and Fort Worth Report hosted a forum Oct. 5 to discuss what amendments on the November ballot could mean to the state.
Voters will decide on 14 constitutional amendments next month. Proposition 14 would put $1B toward state parks.
At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.