Politics

UPDATE: Harris County GOP Commissioners Block Property Tax Hike

Without commissioners Steve Radack and Jack Cagle, there was no quorum and no vote.

Steve Radack and Jack Cagle, the two Republican members of the Harris County Commissioners Court, were absent from Tuesday’s meeting, blocking the approval of the proposed property tax rate increase.

Steve Radack and Jack Cagle, the two Republican members of the Harris County Commissioners Court, blocked the approval of the largest property tax rate increase in a generation by being absent from the court’s meeting Tuesday. 

The court is made up of five members; the other three are Democrats who are in favor of the tax rate increase.

Texas law requires that at least four of the five court members be present in order to vote on a tax increase, as News 88.7 reported on Oct. 7. Since Cagle and Radack were not present when the tax increase item came up, there was no quorum and no vote. 

Last week, Radack told News 88.7 he planned on attending, while a spokesman for Cagle declined to say if the Precinct 4 commissioner would be present.

The proposed tax increase would have raised Harris County’s property tax rate to 65.26 cents per $100 assessed valuation, up from the current rate of 62.998 cents per $100 assessed valuation. This is the last year in which Harris County could raise property tax rates by such an amount. Under a new Texas law, local governments will only be able to raise property taxes by a maximum of 3.5%. Anything higher will require them to go to voters for approval.

Since there was no vote, the property tax rate will decrease to the effective tax rate of 61.17 cents per $100 assessed valuation, according to the Harris County Budget Office.

Cagle said in a statement the tax increase would have been unfair and unjustified.

He said that only 5.5% of the additional revenue it would have generated would have gone toward flood control. “Most of it would have drained into the county’s general fund for members of the court majority to spend as they like,” the commissioner said.

Cagle and Radack’s absences were criticized by County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Adrian Garcia.

“Unfortunately, today commissioners Cagle and Radack chose to hide rather than face the tough reality of the impact that extreme revenue caps will have on our county,” Hidalgo said in a statement.

Hidalgo also said that blocking the tax increase will have potential catastrophic impacts on Harris County’s ability to improve flood control and provide public safety and services for veterans.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said he was disappointed that Cagle and Radack blocked the vote on the tax hike.

“Our proposal was a modest and responsible investment that would allow us to continue to provide services and protect our community,” Garcia said in his statement.

Houston Public Media reporter Andrew Schneider contributed to this story.

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