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Petitions now available as rollback drive opens

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Ellis County Press Managing Editor
Petitions calling for a property tax rollback vote already are being distributed throughout Ellis County.

The grassroots effort to counter the Ellis County Commissioners Court's approval of a staggering 20-percent property-tax hike began in ernest after a weekend meeting. The Ellis County Press has learned petition forms will be made available for signing at various convenience stores and restuarants in the county.

Citizens have 90 days from Oct. 2, the court's approval date of the property-tax increase, to sign the petition and call for a rollback election. The petition target is 8,000 signitures — 10 percent of Ellis County's more than 70,000 registered voters — for a rollback election to be called early in 2001.

A simple majority vote would drastically drop the property tax rate for the coming year. For the latest information on the property-tax 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. State of Texas 'truth-in-taxation' laws give taxpayers a voice in decisions that affect their property tax rates by requiring countries 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, according to the state comptroller. For example, if property values go up, the effective tax rate goes down.

The rollback rate, on the other hand, 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.

Because the Ellis County Commissioners Court has adopted a tax rate far higher than the rollback rate, state law allows voters to circulate the petition calling for an election to limit the size of the property tax increase.

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