October Tornado Victims To Receive Tax Help from Dallas County

A North Dallas home devastated by the October tornado.
A North Dallas home devastated by the October tornado.
Lucas Manfield
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Dallas County homeowners hit by October's tornadoes will get a little tax help from the county, thanks to the Dallas County Commissioners Court. Tuesday morning, commissioners decided by a unanimous vote to allow the Dallas County Appraisal District to revalue property hit by the tornado.

Owners of properties given new, lower appraisals will be taxed at that rate, rather than their property's pre-tornado value, for the last 73 days of 2019.

According to county staff, the decision could cost Dallas County about $1 million in revenue for the rest of the year, if all of the $2 billion in estimated damages caused by the Oct. 20 storms happened to taxable property.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the actual financial impact could be much lower, given the amount of public and other non-taxed property hit by the storms.

"A lot of this is things we don't tax," Jenkins said of the damage estimates. "It's schools, it's roads, it's traffic signals. It's trees in parks. It's all sorts of things like that. It's also some homes. There is going to be a lot, but even a million dollars" might be overstating the lost revenue.

Parkland Hospital will take a similar revenue hit to that taken by the county — the commissioners set its property tax policy — but other local governments, like Dallas ISD and the city of Dallas, aren't bound by the county's decision.

If properties with tornado damage aren't improved by the time they're assessed in 2020, the hit to Dallas County's coffers could be as much as $5 million, staff said.

County commissioner Elba Garcia pulled the tax help item off the court's consent agenda — where it would have passed without an individual vote — because she wanted to make sure the public knew explicitly how the county's decision was going to affect them.

"It is very important to help all our constituents, regardless of where they are in Dallas County," she said.

Dallas County's $63 million reserve fund will absorb the 2019 lost revenue.

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