Homeowners in Spring Branch School District affected by Harvey could pay less in property taxes

October 16, 2017

Homeowners inside Spring Branch Independent School District boundaries could pay less in property taxes this year after Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to allow Harris County Appraisal District to reappraise home values for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

In a 7-0 vote, the board approved the recalculation that will take into account damages from the storm. The measure is allowed under a state law that gives the option to regions that have been declared disaster areas. Spring Branch ISD was included in that area when Gov. Greg Abbott made the declaration as a result of Harvey.

“We’ve been hearing from community members who are not able to live in their homes or pay rent,” said Karen Peck, board president. “Hearing that, the board was concerned so this meeting was called.”

Although the board has approved the reappraisal for school district taxes, their action will not affect other taxing jurisdictions residents may be under, and it’s still not clear whether Harris County Appraisal District will actually carry out the reappraisal.

But district officials said they fully expect authorities to help ease revenue loss the district will experience as a result of a lowered tax bill.

“The SBISD Board resolution also requests that the Texas Education Agency, Texas Commissioner of Education and the Texas Legislature make necessary adjustments so that SBISD and other districts in the disaster area may fully recover financial losses as a result of storm damages, including costs of reappraisal and diminished revenue. HCAD will charge SBISD an added fee for the reappraisal of impacted properties,” read a statement from the district after the vote.

Though, when taxpayers receive their tax bills for 2017 by the end of the year, it will not reflect any readjusted values. The district says homeowners can apply for installment payments which will likely stave off over-payments by the time reappraisals are complete. But they warn that failure to pay what is owed according to payment options will result in late fees or penalties.

Katy ISD passed the same measure in early October, but initial reports from Houston ISD indicate homeowners in that district will not receive the reappraisal option for school taxes.

“We have seen the Spring Branch community rally in extraordinary ways,” said Josef Klam, board vice president. “This action will provide relief for those who really need it now. People who have not been impacted have been fully supportive of this action. This is what we do as a community.”