Has Gonzales County gone the past three years without raising taxes?
Yes … and no.
The Gonzales County Commissioners Court has set a tax rate in each of the past three years that would allow Gonzales County to bring in roughly the same amount of revenue as the year before. This used to be called the “effective tax rate.” In that light, it is true that the county didn’t raise “taxes” overall for the county as a whole.
However, the adopted tax rate passed by the county has increased from 38.09 cents per $100 valuation in tax year 2019 to 38.39 cents per $100 valuation in tax year 2020 to 43.91 cents per $100 valuation in tax year 2021. The tax rate itself has gone up 5.82 cents since 2019.
Depending on what the taxable value is for an individual parcel of property — if the Gonzales Central Appraisal District increased the taxable value of that particular property, then the amount of taxes paid on that individual parcel of property went up from one year to the next.
In that light, taxes would have been raised for that individual property owner as he or she would certainly have paid more with a tax rate that is 5.52 cents higher in 2021 than in 2020. In 2020, a $100,000 home would have paid $383.90 in taxes, while that a home of the same value would pay $439.10 in taxes in 2021, an increase of $55.20 in taxes from one year to the next.
Beginning in 2019, Senate Bill 2 set a limit on how much a county could increase its tax rate without needing voter approval and they also changed the wording in the Texas Property Tax Code to meet “Truth in Taxation” requirements set by the Legislature.
What was formerly called the effective tax rate became the “no-new-revenue rate,” which is “the tax rate that would generate the same amount of revenue in the current tax year as was generates by a taxing unit’s adopted tax rate in the preceding tax year from property that is taxable in both the current and preceding tax years.”
In this formula, new construction is ignored and only property which is on the current and prior tax roll is used. If the county’s overall taxable value (minus new construction) increased, then the no-new-revenue rate decreases from one year to the next.
If the overall taxable value decreased, then the no-new-revenue rate will increase as it takes a higher tax rate to generate the same amount of revenue.
Gonzales County lost taxable value in oil and gas production from 2020 to 2021. The 2020 adjusted taxable value was $3,482,549,523, while the 2021 adjusted taxable value for Gonzales County was $3,044,425,092 — a loss of more than $438.1 million in taxable revenue.
In 2020, Gonzales County’s tax rate of 38.39 cents generated $13,379,538 in tax revenue. If Gonzales County had kept the same tax rate in 2021 as it did in 2020, it would have lost $1,587,576 in tax revenue and only collected $11,791,962.
The no-new-revenue rate of 43.91 cents for 2021 generates a tax levy of $13,487,498, or an increase of $107,960 in total tax revenue (the formula used by the tax assessor accounts for changes in frozen levy on homesteads for the elderly and disabled as well). The county is expected to take in $107,960 more in taxes in 2021 than it did in 2020.
So did Gonzales County raise YOUR taxes during the past three years? They did raise the adopted tax rate, but whether YOU paid more in taxes depends on the taxable value of YOUR property from one year to the next.