By Alicia Lacy

The Cove Herald

House Bill 3613 added a section to the tax code that gives veterans living with service-related physical and mental disabilities a complete exemption from their property taxes.

While the bill is beneficial to military veterans, it will also have an impact on city budgets. But much of that impact is unknown as county and city officials are still preparing for the effects the new bill will have on their budgets.

Coryell County Judge John Firth said he welcomes the new bill. "I welcome the opportunity to support the disabled veterans. Although it's small, I think it's appropriate to give tax advantages to disabled vets."

"The leadership in Coryell County welcomes this, but we as elected officials have to find other opportunities to lessen the burden on taxpayers," Firth added.

Firth believes the bill will make a difference in revenue for the county, estimating about $100,000 in lost revenue, but said he will have to wait for official numbers from the Coryell Central Appraisal District, which won't be known until July 25.

Firth said the county is in the process of exploring other options to help offset the expected change.

Copperas Cove City Manager Andrea Gardner said the loss of property tax revenue and the impact the bill will have on next year's city budget is unknown.

Because of the new bill, there is potential for an increase in population in the Central Texas area because of Fort Hood and its proximity to Veterans Affairs Hospitals in Temple and Waco.

"The possibility exists for an increase in population if Texas is the only state offering such an exemption," Gardner said.

"We won't see a decrease in population," Firth said. "We're prepared to expect that as disable veterans see that Texas doesn't have a state income tax and no property taxes for them."

Because the CCAD's software has not been updated, Chief Appraiser Mitch Fast said the dollar amount modification wouldn't be known until Friday. "We don't know how much it will take out because many properties already have exemptions."

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