BCS Chamber delegates ask state lawmakers to oppose or significantly change property tax legislation

AUSTIN, Tex. (KBTX) - On Monday, Senate Bill 2 passed out of the Texas Senate Property Tax Committee, making it one step closer to becoming law.

Among other details, SB2 would cap the rate at which local entities, such as cities and counties, could increase property taxes. Local governments would not be able to increase those taxes any more than 2.5 percent.

Representatives of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce’s State Legislative Action delegation visited the the Capitol in Austin Tuesday to lobby lawmakers on several issues—but particularly this one.

The mayors of both Bryan and College Station were among the delegation, asking legislators not to cap their ability to increase property taxes.

“It doesn’t make sense in a growing state where so many people are coming into Bryan and College Station,” said Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson. “We have essential services to provide; the only way we can do that is to tax that new development or saying basically that we’re going to kill growth in our community and throughout Texas.”

College Station Mayor Karl Mooney agrees, adding that he hopes his Brazos Valley representatives in the Texas House will allow higher increases or more exemptions than their neighbors in the Senate.

“I’m hoping that as this same bill goes to the House—the House with its closer ties to the folks that those representatives actually see on a daily basis when they’re in their communities—I’m hoping that those calmer heads will increase that cap so we’re looking at more like a 4-6 percent,” Mooney said.

Those aforementioned members of the House would include Rep. Kyle Kacal (R-District 12) and Rep. John Raney (R-District 14), both of whom were reticent to support the bill as it stands.

Kacal said he would “probably not” vote for it in its current form.

“You can’t tie the hands of these small communities that are struggling to provide services with fast growth rate,” said Kacal. “My job is to represent the people of my communities but not be strong armed by the state; it’s about local control.”

Raney said he could “support some change if it’s helpful.”

“Property tax relief, maybe some changes in what is taxed, how you tax it, what’s exempt, those sorts of things,” Raney said. “All of them ought to be considered and we’ll judge them on their merit, and I’ll visit with the local communities about what comes out, and we’ll try to find an answer that fits our community—not someone else’s community.”