The Tarrant Appraisal District says property values are up, but not as up as they have been in some other years.
That’s crucial as cities and school districts begin working on setting property tax rates for next year.
And there’s a new factor in that process. A bill passed by the Legislature and awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature sets new restrictions on how tax rates are set.
A key provision makes it harder for governments to keep tax rates steady yet bring in more money just because appraisals went up.
TAD reported Wednesday that the total assessed value of commercial and residential properties across the county has hit $170.8 billion. That’s up just 2.5 percent since September.
TAD determines values used by cities, school districts and other special districts in setting property taxes .
When tax exemptions are taken into account, TAD said, the preliminary net taxable value of Tarrant County property is $141.9 billion, up 4.7 percent from September.
Last year, net taxable values were up 5.3 percent from 2013.
Appraisal notices were mailed by June 1 for all properties with a value increase of at least $1,000. Owners have 30 days from the day the notice was mailed to file a protest with TAD.
TAD is expected to certify a final tax roll by July 25. Then local governments get started setting tax rates.
The new factor is Senate Bill 1760, by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe.
Assuming it’s signed by Abbott (that’s a safe bet), SB 1760 will require a vote of 60 percent (instead of 50 percent) of the members of a city council, school board or other governing body to approve a tax rate that will raise more money from existing properties than in the previous year.
On Fort Worth’s City Council or school board, that means one more vote will be needed to set the tax rate compared with last year. That might be an easy hurdle, but on a divided council or board it could mean a lot.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick put it this way: “No longer can a governmental body’s operating budget increase automatically without the governmental officials voting to raise property taxes.”