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Mayor eyes property tax rate decrease

Posted May 24, 2016

Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD) officials recently released assessed values with an average 14 percent increase resulting in an outcry from concerned citizens.

Having served as tax assessor for Tarrant County for 10 years, and being a homeowner, I acutely understand the angst with property taxes.

The good news is that TAD doesn’t set our property taxes. Nor would we want them to. TAD’s role is to provide uninfluenced, non-political assessments of property values based on available market data. Setting actual tax rates has always been the job of those directly accountable to the people — mayors, city councils, school boards and other elected officials.

Rising property values is great news for property owners. It means your investment was a good one and there’s no better evidence of a healthy city where people want to live and work.

One of our goals as city leaders must be to provide you the services you need while keeping your taxes down. Simultaneously, it is our responsibility to continually focus on economic development that creates jobs and build a stronger commercial tax base that helps offset the burden on homeowners.

When looking at your property tax bill, there are two important elements to keep separate. First, if you believe you received an unfair property value assessment, then you have a right and responsibility to file a protest with TAD. Secondly, if you are concerned about your actual tax bill and tax rate, bring your concerns to your local elected leaders.

In Fort Worth, approximately 30 percent of the average citizen’s property tax bill comes from taxes levied by the City of Fort Worth.

Currently, Fort Worth city staff is preparing a budget proposal for 2017. With the assessment increases announced by TAD, I have asked our city manager to bring options that include a property tax rate decrease in 2017. Considering a tax rate decrease in our growing city is not easy. Your tax dollars are at work supporting vital city services such as police, fire, parks and road maintenance. But it’s absolutely the right thing to do.

As your mayor, I’m focused on providing superior city services while ensuring we are excellent stewards of tax-payer dollars. Your city manager and council are committed to being the best managed city in the U.S. That includes prioritizing capital funding. Meaning, lowering the tax rate must not create a burden on infrastructure – such as improved streets and roads throughout the city.

We are blessed to live in Texas, a state that ranks as the 46th lowest state in the U.S. for state and local tax burden. Resting on just two of the three sources that other states access, property and sales tax, Texas’ tax system continues to rank as one of the least burdensome when compared nationwide.

In Fort Worth, your local leaders are working to keep your local tax rate at only the level required to run city government efficiently and transparently, while living within our budget. With our current tax rate at .855, a high threshold, you deserve our serious consideration to lower that rate.

There is substantial discussion by the state legislature to limit the local taxing authority and possibly even remove local control of your tax dollars. Frankly, Texas’ current tax structure relies heavily on property taxes to fund our basic city services. As Fort Worth’s mayor, it is my job to pay close attention to this debate to ensure that the City of Fort Worth is well protected to provide services and infrastructure that enable responsible growth.

As always, I invite all Fort Worth citizens to join the conversation. Let us know your views on the current municipal tax rate and level of service provided in the upcoming budget workshops and public meetings. Join me on a bike trail, find me on Twitter @mayorbetsyprice, on Facebook or email me via betsy.price@fortworthtexas.gov. We need to hear from all citizens because it is your Fort Worth! I look forward to you being engaged in our governance process.

Betsy Price, a Fort Worth native, was elected as the 44th mayor of the City of Fort Worth June 18, 2011. A successful business owner and lifelong public servant, Price uses this forum to ensure transparency and inform residents of issues and programs that affect their daily lives.

About Mayor Price

Betsy Price, a Fort Worth native, was elected as the 44th mayor of the City of Fort Worth June 18, 2011. Read the mayor's bio »

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