Recently headlined in the news was Gov. Greg Abbott’s signing of Senate Bill 2, which is designed to limit property tax growth in the state of Texas. With the new law in place, cities and counties can collect only 3.5 percent more in tax revenue than the prior year without voter approval.
This is a warranted relief for some taxpayers who have seen their taxes increase limitlessly. The ramifications of the tax cut to the cities and counties in Texas, however, is stifling. City and county budgets are directly linked to the revenue gained by taxes, which enables local governments to provide public safety.
This tax cut has a greater impact on Fort Bend County, which is currently dealing with flood mitigation. Precinct 4 is undergoing a huge effort to improve its levees and safeguard neighborhoods that are increasingly vulnerable to floods. Needless to say, this tax cut will definitely impact the funding of these Levee Improvement District (LID) projects.
A new approach and thought process is needed in times like these to circumvent the disruption to the city and county’s responsibility to provide safety to its constituents. Fort Bend County is one of the fastest-growing in terms of population and businesses and we want to keep it thriving.
My approach to the legislature is simple: find alternative ways to correct the problem. Being an engineer allows me to think outside of the box and to delve into the basics. The idea is to find innovative ways to address issues and mitigate problems. My wealth of experience in the public and private sector has helped me to analyze situations with a different view. With this approach, the county is making strides to find savings and pass it on to the community.
The recent LID reform, specifically with LID 14, is just one such example of how this works. Delve into the facts and find solutions.
By working out an agreement with LID 14 to collect LID taxes using the Fort Bend County Tax Assessor‐Collector assisted in a LID tax savings of 98 percent. This was a result of eliminating the private LID and MUD collection agency and centralizing the operating of collections with the county.
With this simple change the taxpayer will reap the benefits.
We have also been able to find alternative avenues to create positions which are vital to our community.
A much-needed deputy constable position was created by partnering with the office of the Precinct 4 constable to serve the Four Corners and surrounding areas without the use of tax dollars. The work starts with meeting the different communities and listening to their individual needs.
By addressing and strategically working with other Fort Bend County officials, savings can be found.
I promise that Fort Bend County Precinct 4 will continue to evaluate, analyze, scrutinize and brainstorm on fresh and innovative ways to continue our services to our communities without disruption to its growth and quality of life.
A bipartisan approach for the wellbeing of the community is the goal. Within my six months in office, I created the DeMerchant Community Collaborative (D.C.C.) initiative which is now in full swing.
There is much work to be done and we will keep you informed of those as they come.