Rural Property Owners becoming 2nd Class Citizens?

From some of the things that happened last session, they are already on the way to that status. SB2 & HB2 only will worsen this, if the total exemption of ‘small govt entities’ is left in place. Last session, they did precisely that in dealing with forced annexations, exempting smaller counties from protections for property owners. Other past bills have had similar ‘rural exemptions’, but few have dealt with what is more about basic property rights than ‘uniquely rural’ characteristics needed for governance. And the current SB2/HB2 bills worsen this schism by exempting all government units of revenues below $15 million from anything but the 8% rollback rate.

But WHY are these exceptions being created? Very simple; brutal politics. A number of rural representatives and Senators are less afraid of their voters than their County Sheriffs & County Judges- who hold far more political power than their counterparts do in urban areas.  And those county officials want NO changes that lessens their control. And, sadly, the legislators so controlled hold the numbers to prevent any bill from moving forward. Unfortunately, too few of the rural property owners know this is going on- or care. So the schism develops- or NO ONE moves forward. However, this time there IS push back- and that pushback needs to be strengthened. As much as we in the suburbs & cities want the rural property owners to have the same rights, the rural legislators will ignore us as non-constituents , it is up to the rural people to DEMAND their rights.

We need to pressure ‘political expediency’ back toward what is right. So we also need to pound another point into the collective GOP mind. The ONLY thing that saved the statewide GOP this last election WAS the rural areas.  And if they are so openly slighted by the GOP majority in the state legislature, what do think their mood will be about voting in November, 2020? I’m not thinking they would switch to the Democrats; but their TURNOUT might be depressed- and that could spell disaster. The State GOP MUST deliver property tax reform & relief to the rural voters.

One other area of concern: special-purpose districts.  These are often smaller entities and subject to much abuse; too few of them would be covered under the current bill’s $15 million level. They should be subject to the lower ‘voter approval rate’  if they are $1 million or larger.
If for no other reason, That I would think (if it’s legal), some larger entities might try creating special districts within themselves to break up some of the tax load  at a level to avoid the 2.5% voter approval rate limit. A special water district, a special street district, etc. Not sure if the rules of special districts would allow it, but someone more knowledgeable in them could comment below.  Either way, they should come under the lower voter approval rate to improve control of abuse.

2 Responses to Rural Property Owners becoming 2nd Class Citizens?

  1. Stacey Roberts says:

    When referring to special districts do you mean the MMD’s or MUD districts? If so then I believe there are many concerns re these areas.

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