By Elna Christopher
Director of Media Relations
SB 1771 by Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, was reported out of Senate Finance on May 5, despite testimony from several county tax assessor-collectors that the bill — proclaimed as a simplified notice bill — is totally unworkable.
Local officials would support a simplified notice form so that taxpayers could better understand proposed tax rates, compared to the amount of taxes they paid the previous year. However, SB 1771 does not accomplish this and even gives taxpayers less information and is fraught with misinformation.
Because of the timelines in the bill, it could delay the preparation of tax statements until October, making the job of meeting statutory and constitutional deadlines virtually impossible. In addition, the bill provides for publication of a “same services” tax rate that ignores unfunded state mandates as well as inflation/population growth — the “same services rate” would mislead voters into thinking that service levels will not be cut back.
Tax assessors who testified on behalf of their counties and the Texas Association of Tax Assessor-Collectors presented committee members with numerous details of why the bill’s mandates are unattainable. A one-page document explains the difficulties of the bill and suggests that an interim study — with county officials at the table — is preferable to passing this seriously flawed bill. Please contact your senator immediately and request that he or she oppose this bill.
The House companion, HB 874 by Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, has been heard and is pending in House Ways and Means.