Commentary: Why Senate Bill 2 is the real definition of local control


It’s that time of year again: When property owners across Central Texas are reviewing their annual appraisal notices and running the numbers. Homeowners are calculating how much their monthly mortgage payments will increase, while commercial property owners are calculating the hit on their operating expenses.

This year, it’s quite the hit again. In Travis County, residential and commercial property valuations have increased by an average of 8 and 23 percent, respectively. New solutions are needed to slow the skyrocketing property tax values that are overwhelming small businesses and homeowners while taxing jobs and residents out of town.

Senate Bill 2 — also known as the Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2017 — puts the power of taxation back in the people’s hands by requiring cities and counties to ask for voter approval for any property tax hike greater than four percent. Just as important, SB 2 brings much-needed transparency and accountability to a convoluted and frustrating appraisal system.

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Though some lawmakers are pushing the envelope on providing meaningful property appraisal reform for Texas residents and businesses, local municipalities are in a tooth-and-nail fight against SB 2, incorrectly and unjustly calling the bill a “cap” on local services.

To be clear, SB 2 does not prevent taxing entities from raising their tax rate; it simply gives Texans more control in deciding when they do and do not wish that tax rate to be raised.

That’s the real definition of local control.

Skyrocketing property taxes have an immense impact on our city’s economy and overall affordability. Why are municipal leaders OK with allowing residents to vote on whether to keep Uber and Lyft in market — but not on one of their biggest and fastest-growing expenses?

Austin’s business owners understand that we’re living in one of the fastest-growing areas in the country — and funding is needed to sustain that growth. Instead of advocating against a much-needed solution that would enact true appraisal reform in Texas, city leaders should trust their residents to make the right decision on what’s needed for their communities.

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As Texas property valuations are only expected to rise, SB 2 is a step in the right direction to ensure that property owners in Texas get a fair shake. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, author of SB 2 and chair of the Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief, said it best: “From a homeowner who cannot keep up with their increasing property tax bills, to small businesses seeing their hard-earned profits disappear, and big businesses moving jobs out of Texas, one thing is clear: Texans want and deserve property tax relief now.”

Texas Building Owners & Managers Association applauds the efforts of Bettencourt and the Texas Senate in swiftly passing SB 2. Now, we urge House leaders to move SB 2 quickly through the House and onward to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. Contact your state representative today to voice your support for SB 2 – and give Austin property owners the local control they deserve.

Williams is president of the Texas Building Owners & Managers Association.

Editor’s note: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick late Wednesday urged the House to pass Senate Bill 2 and SB 6, the “bathroom bill” or he would press Gov. Greg Abbott for a special session of the Legislature.

Williams is president of the Texas Building Owners & Managers Association.



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