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.

WE SAY…: Read the latest opinions from the Statesman’s editorial board.

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.

BE THE FIRST TO KNOW: When big news breaks, we send Breaking News emails. Click to sign up.

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.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: In defense of cultural appropriation

I’m here to defend cultural appropriation. “Cross-cultural influence,” would be the less pejorative phrase. But the term above, with its connotations of grand-theft culture, is the one favored by some African-American activists who’ve had it up to here with nonblack performers borrowing the soul and style of Michael, Marvin...
Opinion: The real Down syndrome ‘problem’

Iceland must be pleased that it is close to success in its program of genocide, but before congratulating that nation on its final solution to the Down syndrome problem, perhaps it might answer a question: What is this problem? To help understand why some people might ask this question, keep in mind two children while reading today’s column....
Opinion: Want to dive in the Trump job pool? Ask me anything

Dear Career Counsel, My grandson just graduated from college and is having a terrible time finding work. I was wondering if he would qualify for a job with the White House. I hear there’s lots of turnover. Is secretary of state still available? Or what about the young man who carried around extra pens for the president? Didn’t he just get...
Letters to the editor: March 17, 2018

Re: March 12 article, “Austin on track to meet carbon-neutral goal — if city will pay for it.” Ambitious and important goals set in 2007 show mixed results. We’ve progressed in electric generation reaching for 50-percent carbon-free in 2020 and 100-percent in 2030. Transportation is our next great challenge with big room for...
Opinion: Tillerson’s insubordination meant he had to go

WASHINGTON — There are many reasons Rex Tillerson’s tenure as secretary of state was a failure, from his notorious isolation from his subordinates to his failure to help quickly staff the political appointment positions at State with competent Republicans. But it was his insubordination to the president that assured that he wouldn&rsquo...
More Stories