Scurry County leaders are not truthful about consequences of rollback election passage

Pratt on Texas - copyright Pratt on Texas all rights reservedAmong the most pernicious actions of Scurry County’s county judge and commissioners is their decision to announce a new budget they claim they will pass if the tax increase rollback election passes.

The touted budget cuts a bunch of jobs and services popular with local residents and as you learned in yesterday’s commentary, the welfare office even sent out a letter claiming folks will no longer have access to prescription drugs if the rollback passes.

The problem with this scare tactic is that if voters pass the rollback, the rollback tax rate actually leaves Scurry County with more money to spend in 2020 that it had in the 2019 budget.

It’s a bit boring but here is the way it works: Under the old law, which covers the 2020 budget year but is replaced with the new property tax reform law (SB 2) for the 2021 budget cycle, a county can adopt a property tax increase of up to 8% before voters have a right to petition for a rollback election.

As I understand it from a top tax and budgeting source working for state government in Austin, the rollback rate simply prevents Scurry County from topping the 8% tax increase cap, but it can still adopt a new tax rate and budget that provides an 8% increase in revenue for M&O expenses without voters being able to stop such an increase.

Scurry County’s rollback rate calculation is different from most counties because Scurry County adopted an additional sales tax for property tax relief in 1988. Therefore, Scurry County must lower its property tax rate as sales tax revenues increase to provide the required property tax relief to taxpayers.

Scurry County’s rollback rate calculation still allows it to increase revenue for M&O expenses (i.e., M&O property tax revenue + sales tax revenue) by 8% before voters can petition for an election. See Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 26.041(b) (providing the calculation that a county with an additional sales tax for property tax relief uses to calculate the rollback rate.)

In other words, county officials are not honest about not having enough money to fund current services if the rollback election passes.

 

See also: Scurry Co. Judge Dan Hicks tells yet another whopper! & The nastiness of Scurry County officials in trying to keep their massive tax increase.

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