Killeen and other cities in the state with proximity to military bases could see added relief from the impact of lost property tax revenue due to the Disabled Veterans Residence Homestead Exemption.
According to state law, the exemption gives veterans with a 100 percent disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs a full property tax waiver on their homes.
On Wednesday, the Governor’s Committee to Support the Military released its 2018 report that highlights recommendations for policy changes and legislative action. The report includes 13 recommendations to improve upon education, health care, quality of life, workforce development, encroachment and infrastructure as they relate to the military community of Texas, according to the Office of Greg Abbott website.
Specifically, one item addresses the impact of lost property tax revenue.
“Eligibility for this program should expand to include counties with a military installation, the cities in that county, and cities in an adjacent county so as to provide reimbursement for cities near the installation,” according to the report.
The report also recommends the Legislature should fully fund the program to allow for eligible cities to be reimbursed for 100 percent of lost revenue.
“I am grateful for the Committee’s hard work over the past several months to develop meaningful recommendations that would improve the lives of our military members and their families,” said Abbott in a written statement. “We must ensure that active-duty military, veterans, and their families have the resources they need to prosper in the state of Texas. With the guidance and input of our Committee, we are one step closer to that important goal.”
The concern for local legislators, they say, is not the state-mandated exemption itself, which they argue is well deserved, but a lack of reimbursement from the Legislature, which requires cities to honor the benefit.
In Killeen alone, the city will miss out on around $3.5 million in property tax revenue in fiscal 2019 — a growing deficit that has forced the city to make difficult expenditure cuts in areas like public safety, officials said.
In addition, cities must honor other state-mandated exemptions for less than 100 percent disabled veterans. The total loss for Killeen from all those exemptions combined is $5.3 million, with around $1.2 million in state aid not factored in.
“Disproportionate impact is an issue we have been working since 2014 and have been working earnestly to bring to the Governor’s attention since last session,” said City Spokeswoman Hilary Shine in an email. “Inclusion in the report with a recommendation for full reimbursement is monumental.”
Killeen’s position has always been one of full support of state-granted veterans exemptions, Shine added. The state, however, should stand in full support of the disproportionate impact the exemptions have on the Killeen community, according to the city.
“The extreme financial impact on our community and the unintended consequence of the degradation of services to disabled veterans, active-duty soldiers and civilians was certainly not the state’s intent,” Shine said.
The city committed to continually working with legislators to aid them at the state level.
Read the full report at https://bit.ly/2B44dfz.