HOUSTON - Homeowners in Harris County are expected to get a lower property tax rate after a compromise was reached in a contentious battle among Commissioners, but it may not save them much money.
Harris County Commissioners have reached a compromise on the property tax rate for next year, preventing Republicans from breaking quorum to block the vote.
But while it cuts taxes a third time in three years, the hot real estate market has caused property appraisals to spike and most homeowners will still end up paying more taxes.
"It's gone up and my insurance has gone up and my house insurance has gone up because of that, too, just like everybody else. It's killing us. It’s about to force me out of the neighborhood," said homeowner Albert Cole.
"We live in the uptown area and my taxes have gone up a lot. I try to do my best to fight our taxes every year," said homeowner Nicole Brende.
Homeowners say their home appraisals have been climbing with the real estate market.
"It gets higher and higher and Medicare doesn’t go up, my pension doesn’t go up. So I’m stuck. But everything else keeps on going up," said Cole.
A proposed overall property tax rate of 58.1 cents on $100 of assessed value is a 2.2% reduction. It will save the owner of a $300,000 home, with a 20% homestead exemption, up to $54 in the first year.
"This will allow us to maintain the level of operations that will allow us to continue that growth and continue to provide those resources," said County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who put the compromise forward.
But that $54 will only dull a sharp sting. The Harris County Appraisal District reports 84% of homes increased in value, anywhere from 8% to 10%.
While Commissioners want to give homeowners a break in a tough economic year, some leaders and homeowners are concerned about the future.
"I am immensely concerned. So although we crafted a compromise, the compromise still was on the back of the public hospital system," said Garcia.
"There’s a lot of infrastructure, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. And I definitely promote homeownership," said Brende.
Commissioners Court must vote on the tax rates by October 15.