Sunday, April 29, 2012

Property Taxes in The Woodlands Texas

It is close to budget time in The Woodlands once more. After the election, the elected Woodlands Township Board will discover how much property values will be available and then try to spend the taxes from it. Each home is taxed based on the appraised value of the home to pay the bills of the Township. The process dictates management via a percentage of appraised value. So you have local inflation built into your taxes and your life. Here, this is often very different from the inflation rate for salary raises determined by companies using the national rate of inflation. As long as spending goes up, your taxes will go up. So what percentage pay increase do you get each year? If you got 3%, I bet your taxes went up by more than that. My taxes were raised by 10% (maximum by law) year before last, because my house was appraised at 18% above the previous year, and I fought the adjustment. I am thinking it would be better if I were to sell the house and lease it out, because the lease rate would rise with less of an impact to others, but to me on a fixed income, it impacts me negatively. How about you? Are you staying here? Can you afford huge home tax inflation in your life? Then a year ago, I ran across an attempt in Willis, Texas to deal with the situation pragmatically. Tax on dollars and not on inflating values is the proposal being considered. Why does the government receive a financial windfall when we intend to stay in our homes? Isn't that for transients and not for the base community?  We need our taxes indexed by dollars, tempered by inflation rates, not by the uncontrolled contracted sale of homes in our neighborhood. At the very least we need a cap on taxes governed by the inflation rate. We are constantly paying for area growth, thereby subsidizing developers in our area.

The bottom line is that when a politician says he will keep the tax rate down at 3.2 cents per $100 appraised value or whatever, he means he supports taxation inflation in dollars. Let's stop this practice!

Then what about Homestead exemptions? Personally, I am for encouraging ownership of property in The Woodlands by the residents who live in the home. That is done through Homestead Exemptions. This type of exemption is intended to provide an incentive for home owners to live here. Our Board of Directors has voted not to have such a break for homeowners. Let's fix this problem. Income to the Township is at an all time high. Why do we as residents not see some benefits? We struggle in the traffic and with the related noise.
What cities do not have Homestead exemptions? Why do so many have these exemptions and why? Why don't we have one in The Woodlands? The state of Texas allows Homestead exemptions for very good reasons, yet The Woodlands, Texas does not yet have one. There was an opportunity two years ago, but the directors just do not seem to be on top of the real important things (yet). We sit in limbo between a bona fide city and a rural  community with HOA-like governing responsibilities. We are an HOA in a rural community with a downtown business community we call Town Center. Our laws are county laws. Our roads are managed and governed by the county. The Woodlands Development Co continues to make decisions for us, without consulting us. Our directors manage a $90+ million budget. Our community requires taxation to service debt and pay operating bills, but it does not need to be for government-owned businesses.

Vote conservative and vote for fair taxes that mean something, to provide services and not so encourage rental properties and not for creating community-owned businesses.