HB 140: Ballot education = imperative


HB 140 will be effective for the May 2, 2023 election, a special election since an odd-numbered year. Accordingly, it is not a popular ballot choice due to cost. Nevertheless, districts need to be mindful well in advance of the education effort HB 140 requires:

  • Most notices and forms will state the estimated amount the levy would collect annually and the voters will see that first. Districts must help voters understand district needs on a continuing basis, not just at levy time.
  • Election notices and ballot forms will show the tax rate in dollars for each $100,000 of the property’s appraised value, i.e., true value. Keep in mind that many properties have a value less than $100,000. Moreover, property tax is paid on taxable value — 35% for a home — not true value. This ballot language change fails to account for variances in how different types of property are taxed/assessed, the application of varying reduction factors to different classes of property, and state subsidies such as the homestead exemption and rollbacks. Bottom line — the levy notices and forms will frequently overstate the property taxes that the taxpayer will pay. Voters will need to be educated on the difference between how property taxes are levied versus paid.    
  • For a renewal or any iteration thereof, the rate is to be expressed both as the voted rate on taxable value and as the estimated effective rate on appraised value of residential/agricultural property only. These will differ and are confusing.  In addition, not all properties are residential/agricultural and assessed at the same percentage.

This calls for an unparalleled education effort that is informational, verifiable and neutral, but not promotional, if done by the district. 

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