Property taxes are out of control and it’s outrageous Austin politicians won’t fix it.
While they pledge to tackle the problem during election season, the truth is they created this crisis. They voted to cut taxes for big corporations and froze education spending when they said the state didn’t have the funds. Then politicians passed the buck to local school districts to make up the difference.
Ken Strange, candidate for Texas House District 45, now says he wants to reduce property taxes. Yet in his position of leadership on Wimberley ISD’s Board of Trustees, Strange has voted to raise school taxes while failing to pay his own taxes on time.
Given Ken Strange’s record at Wimberley ISD, in business, and during his campaign, how can we trust him with our money?
- As Reform Austin has previously reported, as president of the Wimberley ISD Board of Trustees, Strange supported an increase in taxpayer-supported debt. The school district now has one of the highest tax rates in the Hays County jurisdiction.
- Second, as director of Wimberley EMS, Strange got Wimberley ISD contracts to service WISD’s Varsity Home football games, while serving on the WISD Board. He’s self-dealing thousands of dollars a year on the taxpayer’s dime.
Strange also evaded Federal Tax Laws by using a non-profit (Wimberley EMS) organization for political gain in his campaign ad, a clear violation of IRS rules.
Residents of Hays and Blanco Counties can see since 2014, their school districts have been experiencing a severe shortage in their share of state funding.
In Hays County between 2014 and 2016, Wimberley ISD taxpayers experienced a $540,000 increase in property taxes, while the state funding decreased $351,000. By 2016, WISD only received $2 million in funding, while local taxpayers paid $21.3 million. In 2017, state funding stayed at $2 million, causing local taxpayer’s to make up for the other 88.98 percent of the district’s total revenue.
Hays County is also home to Dripping Springs ISD. In 2016, the district saw a similar funding shortfall from the state. While the state was only giving DSISD $6.6 million, local taxpayers paid $63.1 million. By 2017, the state share decreased to $6.2 million, while local taxpayers’ increased to $67 million.
In Blanco County, Fredericksburg ISD taxpayers paid $31 million of the district’s revenue last year while the state only contributed $3 million. This year, FISD property owners are projected to pay $37 million in taxes to support their school district while state funding remains at $3 million. This will be a more than $5 million increase for Fredericksburg ISD property owners in one year.
With the state share of education funding continuing to decline, compounded by both Hays and Blanco County school districts increasing payments back to the state to fund the “Robin Hood” school finance system, the problem is only projected to get worse.
Politicians like Ken Strange want us to believe – a few weeks before the election – they have the solution to skyrocketing local property taxes. It turns out Strange is part of the problem in the first place.
We can’t be fooled by more politics as usual. Taxpayers across Texas are paying more in taxes and getting less. Ken Strange won’t change it. If we are to fix our state and get the transparency and tax fairness we deserve, we must to demand candidates stand up to their corporate donors and help us Reform Austin.