Local chambers join forces to oppose proposed revenue cap

(Photo by Chelsea Edwards)

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) For the first time, a group of local chambers of commerce is uniting against plans to keep property taxes lower.

Currently, property taxes can only increase up to eight percent each year; anything higher can get “rolled back” by voters.

However, proposed Texas Senate Bill 2 would cap that increase at 2.5 percent.

Although most residents can get behind lower property taxes, the largest chambers of commerce in Bell County say the cap will only hurt local communities.

John Crutchfield, President of the Killeen chamber, is one of the representatives not on board.

"It's just a number that someone pulled out of the clear blue sky," Crutchfield believes the rate for the cap was not based on research and would not work for many Texas cities.

Although chambers serve businesses, and most businesses don't want higher taxes, the legislation is pushing leaders like Crutchfield to try something new.

"It's really not a matter of taxes- it's a matter of control," he adds.

Greater Killeen, Temple, Harker Heights and the Belton Chambers of Commerce are all joining in statements against the proposal, saying local communities are as unique as the chambers, and local elected officials should decide what tax rates will meet the needs of their voters.

"When you have a community like Killeen for example, that has a revenue issue, they need to be able to use all the tools in their toolbox," says Crutchfield.

Gov. Greg Abbott supports the revenue cap, even calling out Waco leaders in a recent tweet.

“Waco officials want to tax their citizens more & make up excuses why. McLennan Co. Judge Scott Felton said revenue caps on local governments is unfair because the state Legislature is not adequately funding education. But, counties don't fund education,” it reads.

But Waco's chamber also opposes the 2.5 percent cap.

"[The cap] is not based on local need or demand or anything else," says Crutchfield.

"It's the local citizens that pay for it at the end of the day."

He and the other chamber representatives hope by banding together on the issues, their voices may rise above other noise this legislative session.