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Property tax rollback vote being planned

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RUSTY WELLER
Ellis County Press Managing Editor
A grassroots effort for a property-tax rollback vote is beginning to take shape across Ellis County.

A reported 15 people are scheduled to meet this week to plan a petition drive after the Ellis County Commissioners Court approved a staggering 20-percent increase to the county's property tax. Citizens have 90 days from last Monday to call for a rollback vote.

For the latest information on a property-tax-rate rollback vote, please visit www.elliscountypress.com.

A rollback is possible whenever the property tax rate is increased more than three percent, according to the state comptroller.

A petition would require 8,000 signatures — 10 percent of Ellis County's 70,000 registered voters — for a rollback election early in 2001. There isn't time for the issue to make the Nov. 7 general election.

State of Texas 'truth-in-taxation' laws give taxpayers a voice in decisions that affect their property tax rates by requiring counties to calculate effective and rollback tax rates.

The effective tax rate would provide Ellis County with approximately the same amount of revenue it had the year before on properties taxed in both years. For example, if property values go up, the effective tax rate goes down.

The rollback rate provides approximately the same amount of tax revenue Ellis County spent last year for day-to-day operations plus an extra eight-percent cushion, and sufficient funds to pay its debts in the coming year. For school districts, the cushion is six cents per $100 of property value, not eight percent.

Because Ellis County has adopted a tax rate higher than the rollback rate, state law allows voters to circulate a petition calling for an election to roll back — or limit — the size of the tax increase.

For school districts, no petition is required. The school board calls for an election to ratify the adopted rate if the adopted rate exceeds the rollback rate.

Should the issue come to a vote, a majority in favor of the tax rollback, the tax rate is reduced to the rollback rate immediately.

For school districts, if a majority votes not to ratify the school district's adopted tax rate, the calculated rollback rate is the school's tax rate.

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Nelson Propane

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