"Flat" rate means taxes rise with appraisals
Editor, the Advocate:
The 2013 CAD Appraisal Notices have graced our mailboxes and what joys they are! Considering the buzz on the grapevine and my own 10 percent maximum increase, it seems we're in for a big jump in overall valuations. As expected, talk instantly turns to protesting the appraisals in hopes of avoiding tax increases. While this is an appropriate individual response, the taxpayers should direct their collective focus onto the real culprits in how appraisals get converted into tax increases - the city, county and VISD.
Due to persistent repetition by elected officials, we're made to believe they have little control over the tax increases that are attributed to property appraisal increases, but this is an outright fallacy. Taxing bodies have complete control over their tax rates, and since the total taxable valuation is known when tax rates are set, they're perfectly capable of decreasing their tax rates proportional to a valuation increase by adopting the effective tax rate, which collects revenue similar to the previous year.
A prime example of the aforementioned fallacy is Victoria County from 2004 to 2010. During that period, the commissioners court boasted a "flat" tax rate of 0.3986, but it wasn't quite so boastful of the nearly 40 percent increase in its property tax collections over that period (2011 CAFR, pg. 144-147). Even after the City Council's famous battles over half-cent tax rate reductions, its property tax collections increased by 36 percent over the same stretch (2012 CAFR, pg. 196-197). While insufficient, VISD made the most genuine efforts in countering the property value increases by reducing its tax rate by nearly 15 percent during that six-year span, which still netted about a 20 percent increase in property tax collections (2012 CAFR, pg. 96). These results depart greatly from the diversionary rhetoric coming from many of our elected representatives.
I hope it's now grossly apparent where our energies should be directed to lower our property tax bills. We must diligently combat the insatiable urges of the taxing bodies that strive to lay even greater claims on our property and labor. Resist!
Chad Byrd, Victoria