Oct 26, 2022 - News

GOP no-show forces lower tax rate in Harris County

Illustration of suited hand holding a penny

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Harris County's Republican commissioners effectively killed a tax-rate proposal introduced by Democrats on the Commissioners Court by simply not showing up for weeks.

Driving the news: Commissioners Tom Ramsey and Jack Cagle — for the sixth time this budget season — skipped Tuesday's Commissioners Court meeting on the county tax rate.

  • It was the last possible day for the court to approve a tax rate of 57.5 cents per $100 of property valuation sought by Democrats, according to the Office of County Administration.

Why it matters: The county will instead have to adopt what's called a no-new-revenue tax rate that collects the same amount of revenue as the previous budget year, a move that Democrats say will force cuts to crucial services like law enforcement and public health.

  • The overall no-new-revenue rate is 53.058 cents per $100 of property valuation, an 8.6% decrease from the previous year's tax rate of 58.1 cents per $100.

What they're saying: "Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey talked a big game about backing the blue, but when it mattered today when there was an opportunity to boost $100M in funding for law enforcement as part of a tax rate cut they failed to show up," County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted. "They were MIA."

The other side: Cagle and Ramsey have long contended their move would save taxpayers money.

  • At one point, the pair offered to show up if the Democrats added funding for 200 more law enforcement officers.
  • Yes, but: When Democrat Commissioner Adrian Garcia put forth a budget that added the 200 officers, Cagle and Ramsey skipped that meeting, too.

What's next: Tax bills will start going out this month and are due by Jan. 31.


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