LAMPASAS — Lampasas County will lose about $50,000 per year if commissioners choose to implement a homestead property tax freeze for residents age 65 and older.
County Auditor Chris Munn presented a preliminary report at Monday’s commissioners court meeting and said he does not endorse the tax freeze.
“Right after I started this job, y’all asked me to come up with some numbers for a property tax freeze for individuals 65 and over,” Munn said. “Based on historical trends, it’s going to cost us $50,000 a year, incrementally, for the tax freeze.”
With 13 percent of the population 65 and older and 14 percent of assessed property owned by seniors in that age group, the county would lose about $1.5 million by 2020 if the tax freeze is implemented, according to the report.
“Budget-wise, I would never recommend anything like this situation where we lose tax revenues or shift the burden to the younger population,” Munn said. “Although it sounds like a great deal for one segment of the population, for all taxpayers, maybe not so much.”
County Judge Wayne Boultinghouse rejected the tax freeze, saying he spoke with surrounding
county officials, including Burnet County Judge Donna Klaeger who advised against it.
“The county already gives
(seniors) a $15,000 homestead exemption,” Boultinghouse said. “Every entity we do business with keeps raising their dollars, and all I hear from everybody is, ‘Don’t raise my taxes.’”
Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Vincent questioned Munn’s report.
“I question these numbers, and I’d like to see an average of projected new growth,” he said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Lowell Ivey asked the court to consider the consequences of the tax freeze.
“Sure, it would benefit us, but we can’t leave 85.3 percent of the population with this burden,” he said.
As the overseer and protector of the county’s coffers, Munn said a reduction in revenue would not be beneficial.
“If you vote for the tax freeze, you can never undo it — once it’s in, that’s it,” Munn said. “The county’s going to have a hard time with this. ... As nice as it is to freeze taxes for one segment of the population, you’re transferring it to another part.”
The commissioners tabled the item until their next meeting to give Munn more time to gather information from the Lampasas County Appraisal District.
In other business, Boultinghouse announced the county’s burn ban was reinstated through July 21.