Commentary: Dan Patrick says cities ruin America. Come see Georgetown


Many people liken Georgetown to the town of Mayberry from “The Andy Griffith Show.” Some even say we’re home to the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas.” I doubt when folks stand in downtown Georgetown they say to themselves, “You know what? This is what’s wrong with our country.”

That’s why I take great offense to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blaming cities for “all our problems in America.” For many years, the city of Georgetown has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing cities in United States. We are perennially ranked as one of the top places to retire in the country. We are repeatedly awarded for our outstanding financial management and innovative governance. People who choose to live in Georgetown expect this trend to continue.

CONTINUING COVERAGE: Property tax bill takes major step forward in Texas House.

Eight in 10 of our residents believe they received good value for their city taxes. A 2016 resident survey conducted by Texas State University showed that almost 80 percent of Georgetown residents believe the value for their city taxes paid is either “good” or “excellent.”

Several items that the Texas Legislature is considering during the special session could severely limit Georgetown’s ability to maintain our standards of safety, respond to increasing demands on our resources, and proactively encourage quality development.

This so-called property tax reform legislation making its way through the Capitol would have not saved Georgetown taxpayers a dime on their city taxes in fiscal year 2018. Moreover, the House sponsor of the property tax reform bill has said himself that the bill offers no real tax relief. What it would do is curtail our ability to respond to continued hypergrowth in the future.

VIEWPOINTS: Legislature should end illusion and provide real tax cuts.

Any partisan gains won by passing this legislation will be overshadowed when school districts need to increase their tax rates to cover for dwindling state support in public education. For fiscal year 2018, the owner of a home with an average value in Georgetown — $266,598 — will see school district taxes increase by $187. Georgetown ISD expects to remit $9.5 million to the state. This is a $6 million increase from 2017 — or an increase of $175 on the average homeowner’s tax bill.

In other words, of the almost $200 increase in taxes the average homeowner will pay in school taxes, less than $13 will stay in Georgetown to fund local schools. Furthermore, “Robin Hood” payments are expected to jump to almost $14 million in 2019.

For true property tax reform to occur, the state needs to address its own financial problems before turning cities into political scapegoats. While certain state legislators cry that “local control is out of control,” their own state budget reads: “Property values, and the estimates of local tax collections on which they are based, shall be increased by 7.04 percent for tax year 2017 and by 6.77 percent for tax year 2018.”

In other words, the state is mandating school property taxes increase over 13 percent in two years!

Be warned that half-baked changes to state law regarding annexation and permitting would greatly impact Georgetown’s ability to foster well-managed economic development and land use. Legislation that would allow unincorporated subdivisions to veto annexation plans would effectively freeze the current city boundaries and would give our city great pause when considering future developments.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Viewpoints page brings the latest commentaries to your feed.

This legislation would hurt our ability to manage growth. It would create inefficiency and inequity in taxation, force the city to make poor planning decisions, and produce inconsistent, non-sequitur infrastructure development.

Any claims that cities have restricted economic growth through exerting long-standing local control authority run contrary to the economic indicators that show Georgetown is booming.

Please join me in asking Gov. Greg Abbott and Patrick to “stay in their lane.” What’s that old saying about glass houses?

Ross is mayor of Georgetown.

Ross is mayor of Georgetown.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Herman: New rules would restrict grave decorations at city cemeteries
Herman: New rules would restrict grave decorations at city cemeteries

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department on Thursday released long-awaited proposed new rules for the five city-owned cemeteries. Four years is long, right? Even in the cemetery biz. And Tonja Walls-Davis, the city cemetery manager, expects the proposed rules, including tight restrictions on grave decorations, will draw the same kind of objections...
Herman: Caution, free speech might offend you
Herman: Caution, free speech might offend you

It seems that some of our elected officials du jour (see Trump, Donald J., and Abbott, Gregory W.) sometimes have a problem with the whole free speech thing. So it’s comforting that one of our local appointed officials doesn’t. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, himself sometimes accused of courtroom free speechifying in ways that challenge...
Letters to the editor: Oct. 20, 2017

Re: Oct. 17 commentary, “Let’s view science as a powerful tool, not as a threat.” Professors Michael Starbird and Jay Banner encourage universities to engage the public in the appreciation of science. It is dangerous, they rightfully state, to develop energy or public health policies not based on the best scientific information, and...
Commentary: Why I changed my mind on bringing guns at Texas colleges
Commentary: Why I changed my mind on bringing guns at Texas colleges

The recent implementation of Texas’ campus carry law allows people with a concealed handgun license to carry their handguns on college campuses. I once supported this law, but now that I am spending every day on a college campus in Texas, I can no longer say the same thing. My change of heart regarding campus carry was accelerated by the gruesome...
Commentary: Why Trump’s pick for refugee office deserves more scrutiny
Commentary: Why Trump’s pick for refugee office deserves more scrutiny

The federal government’s relentless effort to prevent an unaccompanied minor from getting an abortion, even after a Texas state district judge has waived her need for a guardian’s consent, is shameful. Thankfully, on Wednesday, a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that federal agencies detaining the 17-year-old unauthorized...
More Stories