Vote No on Prop 3: It makes an already rotten appraisal system completely rank

Early voting is underway on 11 statewide propositions and lasts through Friday, October 30th. Election day is Tuesday, November 3rd.

Independent Texans, the only voter association in the state for independent and non-aligned voters, has come out against Prop 3, one of the three ballot measures being touted as property tax appraisal reform.

Jeff Harper of Ft. Worth, Texas, one of the founders of Independent Texans

Jeff Harper of Ft. Worth, Texas, one of the founders of Independent Texans

Jeff Harper, one of the leaders of Independent Texans, a commercial property owner and a real estate agent said, “The ballot language of Prop 3 is misleading. It says, ‘The constitutional amendment providing for uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes.’ The fact is that we already have laws requiring appraisal districts to follow uniform standards and procedures.”

Many Texans are asking what’s really behind Prop 3. Moreover, many want to know why the legislature isn’t doing something about the truly rotten aspects of the appraisal system. Texas is one of only 5 states that allow property sales prices to remain secret. Four years ago the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts released the fact that large-scale commercial properties and speculative raw land across the state is being under-valued on average by 40%. They recommended sales disclosure as one remedy. Instead we got Prop 3.

I interviewed a seasoned Texas lobbyist who closely followed this issue in the last legislative session. He preferred to remain anonymous but said, “State Representative Otto wheeled this thing out last minute at the end of the session. What he’s really after is this: he wants the state to run the appraisal system with 9 regional offices. Local control will vanish. And when you get a screwy appraisal you might wind up driving a few hundred of miles to protest your appraisal. It just makes a rotten system completely rank.”

Remember the 2001 proposition establishing the Texas Mobility Fund? It never mentioned that it was the first step toward enacting Perry’s toll road and corridor schemes.

Harper continued, “This could be a similar deal unless citizens nip it in the bud. The further away the decision makers are, the less accountable they become.”

Send Prop 3 back to Rep. John Otto (R-Dayton) and tell him to bring us back some real reform. Pass this on!

For more on the property tax/appraisal mess and solutions, go here: http://www.costofgrowth.com/

On the remainder of the amendments, here are things you might want to read:

From the League of Women Voters: http://www.lwvtexas.org/2009VG/2009CAVG%5BFINAL%5D.pdf
(If you have trouble with the League’s link above, google for Texas League of Women Voters and scroll down the page for the link to 2009 Constitutional Amendments.

From the Texas House Research Organization: http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/focus/amend81.pdf

From Texas Farm Bureau on Prop 11 (Eminent Domain)*: http://www.txfb.org/newsmanager/templates/TXFBTemplate.aspx?articleid=5422&zoneid=1

*No matter how you vote on Prop 11, just remember the Governor has stood in the way of putting fundamental eminent domain reform legislation on the ballot.

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