Guest column as it appeared in the Fort Bend Sun & Fort Bend Independent following the FBISD budget hearings and vote:
No CAD CAPs,…Why Mr. Howard?
I’d like to start off with a quote from a local media source using the Tax Foundation & US Census bureaus government finance division data:
"According to the latest study by the Tax Foundation (2006-07), Fort Bend County property taxes are higher than any other Texas county, and sixth-highest in the nation in terms of taxes as a percent of the median home value. Only 5 upstate counties in New York have a higher amount." FBN
-This is in reference to the “fund balance” (school surplus) we often hear so much about and the recent tax increase just voted in…
Consider this, the district, according to several media sources, through open records requests, is keeping nearly a 100 million dollar fund balance (surplus). Almost 20 million over state suggested guidelines in their accounts. Additionally, the district included, in November of last year, a record bond/debt to target growth related areas. Why, with all this money, can they not balance the budget without a tax increase this year? The district should be able to give the teachers & employees a raise while balancing the budget and drawing down the size of the fund balance (district surplus) within state guides. We should also be seeing a concerted effort by other local entities and our legislature to support appraisal caps, as is a recent proposal by Dan Patrick (R). Ask Bob Hebert (R), our chief county judge, some local mayors, like Allen Owen (R) and our state rep., Charlie Howard (R), why our county and some of its city officials are behind the hiring of lobbyist we pay our taxes to in order to defeat bills like representative Patricks? Just this year alone our county had another record number of CAD valuation protests filed.
Is Planning & Urbanization Good?
Further, who is conspicuously not at the table during all this? Over the past few years we have seen the school district charged full market value on land for the big master-planned communities who need district schools in their communities to sell homes/land. Why are these large companies not at the table kicking in the school land at cost, saving taxpayers/voters tens of millions of dollars? Why are some of these same development companies allowed to proliferate high density multi-family housing (apartments) in our school districts knowing full well it creates over-crowded conditions with less produced taxes per student head. This is the same crowd that pushed through the record bond debt for the district last year spending large amounts advertising for it with the slogan, “we like higher property valuations” (which is code for higher tax appraisals). Shouldn't they be at the tax table giving back to the community, rather than just taking? Sugar Land city council is engaged in an apartment dispute with a company right now that could further harm the district as we urbanize at the direction of these special interests.
All parties need to be at the table kicking in before taxes are increased! I would also like to strongly encourage all taxing entities to hold these PUBLIC tax hearings at times convenient for the commuting workers and families of our community.
2009 FBISD Tax Hearing (On YouTube)
CLICK HERE FOR THE 2009 FBISD CONTROVERSIAL TAX HEARING (YES THEY ARE RAISING THEM AGAIN--see petition of over 500 district taxpayers asking for board accountability) --In case anyone missed it they raised the property tax rate again (4th time) in 2010 and more than likely will do so again in 2011 facing another projected 15-20 million dollar budget deficit, according to some media reports. ***NEW*** ..Petition TO STOP THE GSTC (Global Science Museum being planned at the district central office--near $30 million dollar project that superintendent Jenney is pushing): http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopthegcst/ (see update below on this apparently ending this project after 2 years)