Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD) officials recently released assessed values with an average 14 percent increase, resulting in an outcry from concerned citizens.
Having served as Tax Assessor for Tarrant County for 10 years, and being a homeowner, I acutely understand the angst with property taxes.
The good news is that TAD doesn’t set our property taxes. Nor would we want them to. TAD’s role is to provide uninfluenced, non-political assessments of property values based on available market data. Setting actual tax rates has always been the job of those directly accountable to the people – mayors, city councils, school boards and other elected officials.
An increase in property values is great news for property owners. It means your investment was a good one, and there’s no better evidence of a healthy city where people want to live and work.
One of our goals as city leaders must be to provide you the services you need while keeping your taxes down. Simultaneously, it is our responsibility to continually focus on economic development that creates jobs and builds a stronger commercial tax base to help offset the burden on homeowners.
When looking at your property tax bill, there are two important elements to consider. First, if you believe you received an unfair property value assessment, then you have a right and responsibility to file a protest with TAD. Secondly, if you are concerned about your actual tax bill and tax rate, bring your concerns to your local elected leaders.
In Fort Worth, approximately 30 percent of the average citizen’s property tax bill comes from taxes levied by the city of Fort Worth.
Currently, city staff is preparing a budget proposal for 2017. With the assessment increases announced by TAD, I have asked our city manager to bring options that include a property tax rate decrease in 2017. Considering a tax rate decrease in our growing city is not easy. Your tax dollars are at work supporting vital city services such as police, fire, parks and road maintenance. But it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
As your mayor, I’m focused on providing superior city services while ensuring we are excellent stewards of taxpayer dollars. Your city manager and council are committed to making Fort Worth the best managed city in the U.S. That includes prioritizing capital funding; lowering the tax rate must not create a burden on things such as improved streets and roads throughout the city.
We are blessed to live in Texas, a state that ranks as the 46th lowest state in the U.S. for state and local tax burden. And we do it while relying on just two of the three sources available to other states, property tax and sales tax.
In Fort Worth, your local leaders are working to keep your tax rate at the level required to run city government efficiently and transparently, while living within our budget. With our current tax rate at .855, a high threshold, you deserve our serious consideration to lower that rate.
There is substantial discussion by the Legislature to limit local taxing authority and possibly even remove local control of your tax dollars. As Fort Worth’s mayor, it is my job to pay close attention to this debate to ensure that Fort Worth maintains the ability to provide services and infrastructure that enable responsible growth.
As always, I invite Fort Worth citizens to join the conversation. Let us know your views on the current municipal tax rate and level of service provided in the upcoming budget workshops and public meetings. Join me on a bike trail, find me on Twitter @mayorbetsyprice, on Facebook or email me via email@example.com. We need to hear from all citizens because it is your Fort Worth! I look forward to you being engaged in our governance process.
Betsy Price has been mayor of Fort Worth since 2011.