Texas Cities Can Add Sales Tax to Utility Bills

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

FORT WORTH (AP) – A new state law gives dozens of Texas cities the option of an additional sales tax on residential gas and electric bills through crime and fire control districts.

The increases are small, topping out at 50 cents for every $100 of a bill. But Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed concern about the measure when it became law without his signature in June.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Sunday that a handful of Texas cities – many in North Texas – have created taxing districts to support police and fire services in the past 15 years. But state sales taxes couldn’t be included until the recent change in the law.

The state comptroller said all but nine of the 32 districts eligible to assess the tax are in Tarrant County.

The new law doesn’t require voter approval for the sales tax to be assessed. Republican state Sen. Jane Nelson, of the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Flower Mound, who sponsored the measure in the Legislature, said voters approved the tax when they created districts for crime or fire control.

Critics say sales taxes are regressive and particularly bad when they increase the costs of utilities.

“This is increasing the tax on a necessity of life,” said Dick Lavine, a senior fiscal analyst with the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a think tank focused on issues affecting low-income Texans.

The Texas Municipal League, which lobbies lawmakers on behalf of cities, supported the measure, but Executive Director Frank Sturzl said it wasn’t a high priority.

The Fort Worth suburb of North Richland Hills created a crime control district that has allowed the city to hire more police officers and pay for crime-prevention programs without raising the property tax rate, city spokeswoman Mary Peters said. The city will assess a half-cent sales tax on energy bills starting July 1.

“This will let us apply the same sales tax rate across the board, which will make our budgeting and accounting processes for sales tax collections easier,” Peters wrote in an e-mail.


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, Trolling or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to comments@kbtx.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus
KBTX-TV Channel 3 4141 E. 29th Street Bryan, TX 77802 Phone: (979) 846-7777 Fax: (979) 846-1490 News Fax: (979) 846-1888
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 81130247 - kbtx.com/a?a=81130247
Gray Television, Inc.