The City of Sugar Land has two prospective tax increases in the making.
On Tuesday, its city council held a public hearing about whether to adopt a property tax increase related to the city’s operating budget. The council is scheduled to vote on the potential increase Sept. 17. If approved, it would go into effect immediately.
So, if you live in Sugar Land and the council adopts the increase as expected, your new property tax would increase by 1.4 cents per $100 valuation, from 31.76 cents to 33.2. And, the homestead exemption has been raised from 10 to 12 percent.
Check your tax statement for these new numbers this October. That’s when the Fort Bend County Tax Office will be mailing them.
If Sugar Land voters approve the $90.7 million general obligation (GO) bond package, meaning all the propositions this Nov. 5, that would be an addition to the tax bill of 3 cents per $100 valuation. But that tax increase wouldn’t be felt until a year from now, when the council approves next year’s tax rate.
Sugar Land Assistant City Manager Chris Steubing told the Star and confirmed that the GO bond package’s 3 cent tax add-on average of about $100 per year is based on Sugar Land’s average home value of $375,000.
That tax increase by the city is needed to pay back the $90.7 million in bond funds for all projects, the bulk of which include drainage improvements in addition to street projects, facilities and public safety projects. They are projected to be completed or under construction within three years. And the payback standard for the bond is 20 years, with half the principal to be paid off in the first 10 years. which Steubing said signifies the city’s financial strength.
So, if the bond package passes, who’s going to oversee the implementation of the projects? It looks like city manager Allen Bogard, who announced his retirement for the end of January 2020, will have a hand in the effort as a consultant/liaison “as needed,” according to Steubing, who called Bogard’s history and experience “a great asset.”
A national search for Bogard’s replacement is now underway and will continue until the fall. The new city manager’s start date, according to Steubing, is slated for February.
Steubing said the projects detailed in the propositions for the GO bond package are based on city resident feedback. As previously reported, they were identified by residents through citizen satisfaction surveys and public meetings.
“We have been listening to what citizens are saying and have heard from them throughout the year,” Steubing said.
As an aside, keep in mind that Fort Bend County has its own bond package for $89.2 million focusing on drainage and flood control projects. Steubing said communications involving county officials and its city mayors have taken place “focusing as a whole on post-(Hurricane) Harvey.”
No doubt, taxes in Sugar Land are on the rise. On a $375,000 home, factoring in the homestead exemption, they would be about $24 more per year if the council approves the increase for its operating budget, plus another $100 if the bond package passes intact. That would amount to a $124 tax increase for the average Sugar Land homeowner by 2020.
Compared to cities of similar size in Texas, including cities in this region, Sugar Land maintains it has one of the lowest tax rates in the state and “the second-lowest tax rate in the state among cities our size,” Steubing said.
There’s a lot riding for the city on the outcome of the upcoming bond election. Keep in mind that Sugar Land has matured. Incorporated in 1959, it will soon turn 60 and the city of master-planned communities has noticeable and detrimental infrastructure issues due to aging and also its fast – yet intentional and purposeful – growth.
Not unlike the way of life for the baby boomers of similar age, the city, too, could be “forever young.”
Sugar Land residents are encouraged to vote Nov. 5. Early voting will run from Oct. 21-Nov. 1.