There is no doubt that Texas property owners are fuming mad about their annual property taxes. Many homeowners have seen their property tax rates skyrocket over the last several years while owners of large corporate properties are seeing theirs go down.
Along the Texas Coast, many counties are still trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey. One candidate for Nueces County Judge seems to be just fine with letting corporate interests get off without paying their fair share of the bill while private property owners pay for it.
On a local Corpus Christi talk radio show Thursday, Commissioner Pusley said that over the 9 years that he has served on the county’s Commissioners Court, they have lowered tax rates on large corporate sites, such as those owned by Citgo, by 5 cents per equation.
“If you lower the tax rate by 5 cents for homeowners, that’s a few thousand dollars savings for them” Pusley said. “But if you lower it for companies like Citgo, Valero and Flint Hills–then it could be millions.”
One could argue several points in Mr. Pusley’s favor saying that owners of large corporate properties reinvest those savings back into the community in form of job creation, research and development, athletic complexes and so on.
One could argue that they bring in a few permanent placements, numerous transient construction jobs and generalized growth to the region. But the question remains as to if these companies really do in fact benefit local economies as much as local officials and company stakeholders would want you to believe?
For a company such as Citgo, that made more than $24,000,000 dollars in domestic sales in 2017, one could think that they could afford to pay a little bit more in property taxes to help prop up the county budget following a natural disaster.
The company did help raise money for the community following the storm and donated hundreds of thousands in goods and supplies that were most likely written off.
That said, Nueces County, like many other counties found themselves paying for repairs to county owned property following Harvey. Why? Because many counties, like Nueces are self insured and responsible for repairs using their own money.
The financial burden for counties in Texas always comes back to the same thing–large corporate landowners pay less and less in corporate property taxes while individual property owners see theirs increase.
It’s not hard to do if you shake the right hands, grease the right pockets and give the right presentation. It sounds great on paper, but to individual property owners, it all seems like a scam.
While the Texas Legislature has sent more and more unfunded mandates down the line to Texas counties and schools still rank of some of the lowest in country, the burden of funding them falls squarely on the shoulders of individual property owners while large corporate interests walk away with higher earnings to show their stakeholders.
While not much is being done in the Lege to control the problem, some non incumbent candidates like Democrat Mike Collier have been bringing this very topic to the table.
“The (State) constitution says that any property subject to taxation is carried at appraised market value” Collier recently told Texas Take in an interview. “My home value is appraised on that basis and your home value is appraised on that basis but Valero’s property is not.”
Collier believes that what these companies are doing is unlawful according to the constitution.
“They go out and hire a few lawyers and shakedown a few people and they pay a lower appraised value than you or I. They pay lower than what the constitution says they should pay and I believe that under the state’s constitution, this is unlawful”, Mr. Collier says.
Collier cautions that though he isn’t an attorney, he does believe that he has the capacity to read the states constitution.
But it seems that companies such as Citgo are getting a green light from counties and the Lege while passing the burden onto individuals.
Collier, an accountant by trade, wants to make sure this doesn’t happen. He feels that by taking his practical, sensible and balanced approach to collecting the right amount from the right people you fix many of the states current problems.
His opponent, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick refuses to publicly comment on the topic, which leads many to believe that Patrick doesn’t know how to fix the problem.
Until practices are put in place to make property values truly equal and uniform, it seems individual property owners will continue to carry the burden while corporate interests get off the hook. That is unless Texas taxpayers send a message to Austin and their county courthouses alike that they have had enough of footing the bill while big business benefits off their schemes.