The Houston City Council and Harris County Commissioners Court recently approved property tax rate decreases for 2020, although homeowners’ payments to both taxing entities figure to increase because of annual hikes in appraisal values.
The county commissioners court on Tuesday unanimously voted to lower the county’s property tax rate by 1.3 cents per $100 valuation compared to last year. It represents the county’s first tax rate cut in a decade.
Following a public hearing Oct. 21, the city council voted 13-4 in favor of lowering the city’s property tax rate to $0.561840 per $100 valuation, down from last year’s rate of $0.567920.
Council member Amy Peck, who represents part of the area in District A, was among the council members to vote against the rate after previously saying she thought it should be even lower amidst economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She said in an email earlier this month that city was using a provision in the Texas Tax Code that allows a taxing unit “to issue a tax rate that would leave us with about the same amount of tax revenue that was spent the previous year for day-to-day operations plus an extra 3.5 percent,” with the city instead using an 8 percent multiplier because Houston was declared a disaster area on account of the pandemic.
Peck said the city could have used the 3.5 percent multiplier and proposed a 2020 tax rate of $0.544532.