At the January 28, 2019 Preliminary Open Council Meeting the Mayor let it be known that he is against the Governors Property Tax Reform Proposal, and he thinks the whole council should be against it too. The Mayor said, “If we want to address property taxes as it effects us, we need to talk about the 2% or 2 cents cap our governor wants to impose on us. That is the resolution [I want]. I would love to see our council step up…. and say this is not right for our city.” He also said, “I’d like to see [us] focus on what we spent hours and hours discussing during budget time, which is in our purview, [and] be affirmative on what our city needs.” The Mayor also called the Governor’s proposal, “Draconian”.
So, the Mayor basically said he does not want the residents to have the right to vote on property tax increases. Not surprisingly the Mayor also got the facts wrong about the Governor’s Plan. So I, your cute Pit Bull, will give you the real facts about the plan. If you would like to read the plan for yourself here is the link for it. https://www.gregabbott.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PropertyTaxReform.pdf
First, the plan “establishes a property tax revenue growth cap of 2.5 percent per year without voter approval.” Not 2% or 2 cents as the Mayor said. Second, the plan allows for two exemptions.
1) Taxes from new developments are not affected.
2) Any proposed revenue increases over the cap must be for limited purposes. Some examples listed in the plan are, “compensation for emergency services personnel (including law enforcement), compensation for classroom teachers or other instructional personnel in public schools, or critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and school classrooms.” However, “increases above the cap may not, in total, exceed the statewide increase in population growth plus inflation, as calculated by the Comptroller of Public Accounts.” Simply put, if the police department needs more money to hire more cops, the city can get it.
Third, any increases above the cap must be approved by a (2/3rds) super-majority vote of the people and the elected officials.
Fourth, the cap excludes revenue from sales taxes and local fees. Lastly, the revenue cap would start on January 1, 2021.
So, I have a question for the Mayor. What is so Draconian about that plan? Just to make sure we are all talking about the same thing, I looked up the synonyms for Draconian. Some synonyms for the word are harsh, severe, strict, extreme, drastic, tough, cruel, oppressive, and repressive. Apparently the Mayor feels it is oppressive to give the people the right to vote on property tax increases. Sorry Mayor, but letting people vote is the opposite of oppressive. Voting is a core principle of our Constitutional Republic and any free society. Now, having local governments impose property tax increases people can’t afford, that is Draconian.
Clearly the Mayor is worried that if the Governor’s Plan passes the voters will stop the property tax gravy train, and the city will have to slow its spending increases.
Did you really think there would not be consequences for ignoring your residents, Mr. Mayor? Residents have been complaining about the dramatic rise in property taxes for a few years. They have gone in front of council begging for you to not raise their property tax bills. Some people said they simply can’t afford the tax increases anymore. A group of citizens went through the budget and pointed out where you could slow or cut spending. Hundreds of people signed a petition asking you not to raise their tax bills. However, you ignored all of them. You talked down to them and insulted their intelligence. Did you really think they would just give up and continue to take the abuse? Of course they would go to a higher authority. When residents get the cold shoulder from one elected official, they go to the next one up the political food chain. In Plano City Council’s case that would be the state legislature and governor. State House Reps Jeff Leach, Matt Shaheen, and former State Senator, now Congressman, Van Taylor have received calls, letters, and emails from their voters begging for help. Newly elected State House Rep Candy Noble and State Senator Angela Paxton ran on property tax reform. Unlike the Mayor and some on council, they want to help their constituents. The Governor also wants to give Texans property tax relief. One way of doing that is putting the power back in the hands of the people by giving them a vote. That way instead of the people going to the Mayor and council begging them not to raise their taxes, the Mayor and the council would have to go to the people and beg them for more money. That is not Draconian Mr. Mayor, that is well deserved karma.
This is Plano’s Political Pit Bull Signing Off.