Perry Slagle is a Bryan resident who along with other city residents believes something has to be done about the high property taxes seniors and disabled residents are having to pay.
"We felt that it was unfair to the elderly people that were on fixed incomes and especially those on the lower incomes," Slagle said. "They do not have any way of recovering the increase in the taxes that keep going up each year."
Since January, Slagle has been coordinating a petition drive to gather enough signatures to allow voters to decide on whether or not to freeze the amount of the seniors' property tax bill.
On Tuesday, 1,800 plus signatures were turned over to Bryan's City Secretary, Mary Lynne Stratta.
"If the petition is sufficient then I'll proceed with certifying that to the city council," Stratta said. "They will then order a special election for this proposition to appear on the November ballot."
Stratta said the petition needs to have at least 1,352 verified signatures. Slagle said he is optimistic that it will.
"We've probably had 30 percent of all the elderly senior voters registered in Bryan who signed the petition already," Slagle said.
The freeze would allow a homeowner whose house is valued at $100,000 to pay the current property tax rate, which is 63.64 cents per $100. Their property tax bill would be $636 and that amount would be fixed or locked for every year to come.
Bryan's Chief Financial Officer, Kathy Davidson said that is the case for the most part.
"Unless they move or make improvements to the home, then the value would change," Davidson said.
Since seniors and disabled residents account for 18 percent or roughly $800,000 of Bryan's tax levy, that means the tax burden would likely be passed on to the remaining taxpayers. Davidson said the lost revenue would have to be recouped somewhere.
"Offset that with increased revenues by increasing the tax rate if we have to or we can cut expenses which means cutting services," Davidson said.
The city secretary has 10 business days to verify the signatures.
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