On Monday Lubbock County Commissioners seemed to be very hesitant to make the decision, but in the end, they voted unanimously in favor of a property tax freeze for elderly and disabled homeowners.
During the 2004 March primaries, Texans were polled on the ballot about property tax freezes for elderly and disabled homeowners. 89% of Lubbock voters favored it and because of that, the county commissioners gave Lubbock county residents what they wanted. "I'm assuming those voters who voted for this understood that if they didn't qualify for the freeze, they would be making up the difference for the loss of revenue for the county," said Commissioner Kenny Maines.
Maines says elderly and disabled homeowners can expect about a $3 to $4 savings on their mortgage payments. "I don't know many people, if you tod them you could save them $3 to $4 a month, they would be excited about it," he said.
Essentially, the county is expecting to lose $643,000 on the tax roll for the 2005-2006 fiscal year. Commissioner Patty Jones says the lost revenue will have to be made up from somewhere, by someone. "What you lose in that, basically, the burden moves over to younger families that are struggling," said Jones.
Mikel Ward, a tax watchdog in Lubbock, says she applauds the decision made by the commissioners. She calls it a great first step. However, Ward showed us county budget numbers she found. The county brings in $12.7 million from property taxes, and $12.7 from county sales tax. "They need to take a closer look at their budget and curtail some of the spending on remodeling, starting new departments we really didn't have the funding for," said Ward.
The property tax freeze will take effect in October 2005. The city's property tax freeze takes effect this coming October. When both are enacted, Commissioner Maines says the combined total of savings to the elderly and disabled, would be about $15 a month.