From ABC News in Houston:
By Jeff Ehling | Updated September 12, 2017 | 6:42 AM CDT
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Many Houston residents are still dealing with flood damaged homes and wondering how much it will cost them to get back to normal.
On top of paying for repairs, the city of Houston may increase property taxes by nine percent.
The key is if the city council agrees to this. We should know tomorrow if the proposal will go forward.
How much would taxes rise? The article continues to state that the current rate of 58.6¢ per $100 valuation would go up, temporarily — for 12 months only, as an emergency request due to damage from Hurricane Harvey — to 63.8¢ the average home in Houston is valued at $225,000, and the increase works out to about $117 a year, or, $10.00 a month added to your mortgage.
But the first question that came into my mind, when I read about this, was: will homeowners’ properties be reassessed before the tax is imposed?
If you had a home in Houston, valued at $225,000, but it was submerged up to the second story by the flood, there is no way on God’s earth that it is still worth $225,000. The Washington Post reported that only 17% of the homes in the eight-county area most heavily impacted had flood insurance, while CNN reported that 70% of home damage won’t be covered by insurance. If your property was valued at $225,000, but the house was destroyed, the only value you have left is the value of the land itself. Considering that much of Houston is built on filled-in wetlands, even your land won’t be worth much.
What the mayor — you know, the guy who told his citizens not to evacuate — wants to do is increase property tax bills for thousands and thousands of people whose property is suddenly worth a lot less, if anything at all.
After all, your property is only worth what someone else will pay for it, and who is going to want to buy land in Houston’s flood plain now? Quite frankly, for many of the flood victims who were homeowners, the smarter thing to do is simply walk away. This is going to be a bigger problem for mortgage lenders in the area than has been estimated, and the city will not see the additional tax revenue the proposed tax increase is intended to raise.
The people who were smart, and bought flood insurance, might rebuild and restore their homes to their previous value . . . and for being smart, they’ll get to pay more money. Of course, some of them might have saved their homes, but have no jobs left to which to return.