Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced a victory for homeowners after the district court in Carson County ruled that White Deer Independent School District violated the law by refusing to offer property owners tax relief granted by the Legislature in 2015.
“Local governments, including school districts, cannot pick and choose which laws to abide by,” Attorney General Paxton said. “White Deer ISD was taking homeowners’ hard-earned money in violation of the Texas Constitution and state law. This lawsuit was about standing up for homeowners in Carson County and Texas voters.”
The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 1 in May 2015 with near universal support, and 86 percent of voters ratified the amendment – one of the highest margins of victory for an amendment in recent history. Because the Legislature paid for the tax breaks in the state budget, the law provided a property tax reduction to homesteaders in Texas with no downside to school districts. Nevertheless, some school districts chose to reduce or repeal their local option homestead exemption and assess homeowners a tax rate that violated the law.
Last December, the Gregg County Court granted all relief requested by Attorney General Paxton in the local option homestead exemption case involving Kilgore ISD’s violation of Senate Bill 1. The attorney general’s office intervened in a similar property tax lawsuit against Dumas ISD. That case is still pending.
Twenty school districts throughout Texas reduced or repealed their local option homestead exemptions in 2015: Dumas, Kilgore, White Deer, Bridge City, Broaddus, Christoval, Daingerfield-Lone Star, Excelsior, Groesbeck, Gruver, Hardin-Jefferson, High Island, Kountze, Lexington, Mount Pleasant, Riviera, Shepherd, Spurger, Veribest and Winfield.