On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave a state of the state address that proclaimed property tax increases as one of the emergencies facing the state. Grayson County Commissioners said that may be so, but they are not in favor of the governor's plan to hold all counties at the 2.5 percent revenue cap.
Grayson County Commissioner Bart Lawrence said Texas has 254 counties and no two are exactly the same. He said the state setting hard and fast limits that equalizes the revenue increases for each and every one of them is not going to make things better.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers agreed and said if the county were to have to hold next year's revenue growth at 2.5 percent, Grayson officials wouldn't be able to fund necessary services.
“It's going to be an interesting time down there,” Lawrence said of the legislative session that is underway in Austin. “I don't think we need to be sitting back home, hoping and wishing that things are gonna be OK.”
Magers explained the proposed cap of increased revenue of 2.5 percent is for all schools, cities and counties with a budget of $15 million or above, as Grayson County has.
“There are some caveats,” Magers said. “It's less new growth and some other things.”
He said Grayson County leadership has done its best in the recent past to hold a hard line on the tax burden for county residents.
“We can't make decisions for Grayson County based on the numbers they are giving us right now,” Magers said of the proposed cap. “I do think that an 8-percent rollback can come down. If you want to call it a 2.5 percent cap on revenue, I think that's fine. I think when you are a high-growth, medium-sized county like we are, you have challenges that other counties don't have.”
For example, he added, Collin County has passed a resolution in support of the cap.
“Well, when you are Collin County, 2.5 percent has a lot more zeros behind it than when you are Grayson County,” Magers said. “But that mile of road costs the exact same amount of money to repair, that health insurance increase costs the exact same money per head, but when you have the amount of property value that (Collin County has), they can do those things.”
Magers said he is going down to Austin for a couple of days next week to meet with the comptroller and other state leaders to plead the county's case about the cap.
“I do think we can lower the tax rates, but with 254 counties in the state of Texas, a size 9 doesn't fit all,” he said, using a shoe size analogy.
Lawrence agreed, noting, as it stands right now, the cap would cost Grayson County about $2 million.
“Two million dollars in revenue and we are going to have to start cutting services,” he said.