Dallas County Judge Jenkins Urges City, DISD to Join His Push for a Smaller Increase In Property Taxes

Clay Jenkins
Clay Jenkins
Emily Mathis

Assessed home values in Dallas County were up by 12.2 percent across the board in 2016, thanks to the region's robust housing market. While the state caps any increase in taxable value at 10 percent a year, the rise still means pain for homeowners, especially those in the middle of the housing market. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins wants to do something about it.

“Our middle class didn’t get a 10 percent pay increase, and they can’t afford a 10 percent tax increase,” Jenkins said at a meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court earlier this week,  unveiling a plan that could lower the cap, at least for taxed collected by the county.

Jenkins wants to limit the increase in property taxes collected by Dallas County to 7.5 percent, the amount accounted for when he and his fellow commissioners drafted the county's 2017 budget. The judge received support Tuesday from Mike Cantrell, Dallas County's only Republican commissioner, who said he was pleasantly surprised to have found a tax-cutting friend in Jenkins, a Democrat.

"That doesn’t happen very often. I’m extremely excited," Cantrell said, before urging that the county lower property owner's burden even further by keeping 2017 property tax revenues at the same level they were in 2016.

"Taxpayers would pay six times less taxes under my plan than the judge’s,” Cantrell said. “Let’s do smaller government, more efficient government." 

Commissioner John Wiley Price appears set to fight any decrease in the amount of potential revenue the county could see, saying that there was "no way in hell" the county should turn down cash from property owners. School districts and Dallas County's cities, Price said, are the one's who can really make a difference in how much property tax people pay.

"If we were the city [of Dallas], I’d be out there drum majoring with you," he told Jenkins.

Jenkins urged the city and Dallas ISD to join the county in capping increased collections at 7.5 percent and, as things stand in the city budget, that's exactly what the city is planning for, though that could change. According to projections provided to the Dallas City Council by city staff Wednesday morning, the city's 2017 budget has a $19.1 million deficit, while assessed property values in the city itself have grown more than 16 percent in the last year, though that number will decrease once property value protests are completed in July. 

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