LAMPASAS (June 25, 2013)--In a regular city council meeting Monday the Lampasas City Council decided to take the proposed tax freeze for seniors to the voters, leaving them to decide its fate.
According to Section 11.13(d) of the Texas Tax Code, exemption from taxation can be done by the city council on its own motion or it can be put to an election if enough of the city’s registered voters (five percent) sign a petition.
In 2003, an amendment to the Texas Constitution provided that a city may freeze the homestead taxes of seniors over the age of 65.
While the property tax freeze would not allow tax rates to go up for senior citizens, the city, who remains neutral in the discussion, reminds its residents that low tax rates do not always mean low taxes.
Also, statistics reported to the council Monday showed the levy lost for the seven years from 2006 to 2013 would have been $71,390 if the tax rate freeze had been enacted back then. A concern was raised that a tax freeze could hinder economic development potential, a source of revenue for city improvement projects.
However, some believe the peace of mind that comes with knowing tax rates will not go up is worth it.
According to the Texas Tax Code there is no deadline to pass a city tax freeze and it would be permanent once it is enacted.
If passed, residents would benefit the tax year following the calendar year in which the freeze is enacted.
The tax freeze would be cumulative of the optional exemption seniors in Lampasas already have to subtract $15,000 of their homestead’s taxable value from their total property value. For example, older residents who pay property taxes on $75,000 of a homestead valued at $100,000 would still pay property taxes at a fixed rate on only $75,000.
The city hopes that through council meetings and other forms of outreach, residents’ voices will be heard.
The item could be on the ballot for the November election, Lampasas City Secretary Christina Marez said.