Proposed amendment would extend property tax reductions to elderly, disabled

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

May 11, 2007 - Polling places for Saturday's constitutional amendment election will be a bit different this year, with only one polling location per county precinct. All four voting sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

The four election sites are Sulphur Springs City Hall, Senior Citizens Activity Center, New Beginnings Fellowship Baptist Church and League Street Church of Christ. Those who normally vote at those locations will continue to do so Saturday.

Those people who would normally vote at the Lutheran Church on Texas Street in voting precinct 1, at Miller Grove Community Center in precinct 16, Brashear Community Center in precinct 25 and Arbala Community Center in precinct 36 will vote at Sulphur Springs City Hall, 125 South Davis St.

Those normally assigned to vote at the VFW Hall in voting precinct 2, at Reilly Springs Community Center in precinct 8, Como Community Center in precinct 13 and Pickton Community Center will all cast ballots at the Senior Citizens Center, 150 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

New Beginnings Fellowship Baptist Church at 155 North Jackson St. is the polling place for voters who would normally vote at these locations: precinct 3A, Miracle Revival Church; precinct 5, Saltillo Community Center; precinct 12, Sulphur Bluff Community Center; precinct 23, Weaver Baptist Church; and precinct 24, Dike Community Center.

Precinct 4, voters who would normally cast ballots at First Christian Church, at Cumby Community Center in precinct 11, in precinct 17 at North Hopkins school and precinct 20 at the Ridgeway County Barn will cast ballotsat  League Street Church of Christ, 1100 S. League St.

What is Amendment No. 1 (SJR No. 13)?

Here’s what the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan group, has to say about SJR 13, the proposed constitutional amendement on Saturday’s ballot:

Currently under Texas law, homeowners who are 65 years of age or older, or who have a disability, are eligible to receive a ceiling on the amount of school property taxes they will owe on their residence homestead based on the amount they owed the year they qualified for the ceiling.

When the 79th Legislature passed school property tax cuts in their 3rd Called Session in 2006, those elderly and disabled Texans whose school property taxes were already frozen did not receive a corresponding reduction in their school property taxes. Therefore, in order for elderly and disabled Texans to receive a proportional reduction in ad valorem taxes, there must be an allowance for such a reduction in the Texas Constitution and a statutory change in law.

This Constitutional amendment would provide such a reduction for the 2006 and 2007 tax years. 

This amendment will expire Jan 1, 2009, which means that school tax reductions after the 2007 tax year would require another constitutional amendment.

Arguments in support of the amendment:

Since other taxpayers were granted this reduction in school taxes by the state legislature it’s only fair that those over 65 and the disabled receive the same proportionate reduction.

Many elderly and disabled citizens are on a low and/or fixed income and need lower taxes.

Arguments against the amendment:

The intention of the 2006 bill was to reduce taxes for those Texans whose property values have had large hikes in recent years. Seniors and the disabled had their taxes frozen so that they did not experience the same rise in taxes as others and therefore they should not receive another discount.

Seniors and the disabled already get a significant tax break by having the amount of their school taxes frozen the year they qualify for this ceiling and therefore should not receive additional reductions on their school taxes.

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