Proposition 13
Tax Relief: A Process, Not an Event
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
April 14, 2005

I once read that leadership develops daily, not in a day. So it is with tax relief to seniors or anyone else for that matter. As Commissioner, I work daily on a range of fronts to be fiscally responsible and to deliver value for hard-earned tax dollars.

Although Bexar County is not bound by referenda such as the City's referendum on Proposition 13 scheduled for May 7, it naturally raises the question as to whether we at the County should follow suit with the City, should the measure pass. So far, no major counties save and except Nueces County (Corpus Christi). I understand and hope that the more that you learn, the more you will agree that it is the process not the event that most needs our attention.

Bexar County taxes amount to $32 per $10,000 in value. If your house is valued at $100,000 and you are over 65, you pay $160 per year or $13.33 per month. If your house is valued at $50,000 and you are over 65, you pay nothing.

At present, there are 83,000 houses in Bexar County that have an Over 65 exemption. This number will start to grow dramatically in 2011 when the baby boomers start to retire.

The truly poor will not be driven out of their houses. Persons over 65 years of age can defer their taxes until their deaths. (Heirs will have to pay 8% interest per year on the unpaid taxes.)

Disclosure of sales prices to the appraisal district would go a long way to creating equity between residential and commercial property values. Although this bill is in the legislature, the long history has been to allow for no disclosure of real estate sales. Your Commissioner's Court supports a corrective bill requiring disclosure. What's good for the goose is good for the gander!

Proposition 13 will be a bonanza for persons in million dollar homes, but will provide very little relief to persons in modest homes while risking the loss of needed services.

Also, the biggest portion of a property tax bill goes to school funding, and seniors' school taxes are already frozen when they turn 65.

It is well to remember that unlike most any measure, Proposition 13 once passed, is irreversible without a state constitutional amendment.

A modest tax relief to this generation risks massive service cuts and/or tax increases for their children and grandchildren.

If appraisals rise at 3.75% per year, a $70,000 house value will increase to $94,074 in 10 years. It may seem hard to believe but if the county does not increase its over-65 exemption, the tax burden for that homeowner would be $141 per year or $11.17 per month. If it does, the bill would amount to less than $11.17 per month.

Real tax relief to the needy is to increase the amount of the tax exemption to those over 65 if home values rise.

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