Thanks to Sherry Weesner for generously sharing her research and analysis of the City of Houston’s budget. Sherry is a longtime resident of Montrose and a veteran in the defense and betterment of the Montrose community.
My Tax Dollars at Work
I know we all complain a lot about where our taxes go. Well, I've discovered a place where you can see how your City of Houston property taxes are spent.
The City's approximately $2 billion General Fund is its largest fund and supports the majority of the basic services of the City, such as police and fire protection, health and human services, and garbage collection. The largest sources of revenue for the General Fund are property and sales taxes, which together make up approximately 70% of the General Fund.
The current property tax rate for the City of Houston is 63.108 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The sales tax rate for the City is 1 cent, METRO's is 1 cent and the State of Texas' tax rate is 6.25 cents per dollar for taxable items purchased. Obviously, most of the sales tax you pay ends up in the State's budget.
We also pay the Drainage Utility Charge (ReBuild Houston) – which shows up on your water bill. The fee is either 3.2 or 2.6 cents per year per square feet of impervious surface depending on the type of road you live on (curb and gutter or open ditch). This fee pays for street and drainage improvements within the city. The city has approximately $1.7 billion in road and drainage infrastructure debt and pays nearly $150 million per year in interest on that debt. 11.8 cents of every $100 of property value collected is currently going to pay off the debt incurred on previous street and drainage projects. As this debt is repaid the funds will be used for street and drainage improvements around the city.
To review the taxes you pay to other entities like HISD visit the Harris County Appraisal District website.
The City has created a website to show us how our property taxes are spent. The My Tax Dollars at Work website on the City of Houston's webpage allows each of us to analyze how our Property Taxes are spent. The page has not been updated to the most recently adopted budget but I expect that will happen soon. The current budget is similar to the budgets approved over that last several years.
I utilized the website to analyze where the taxes are spent for a typical property in our area. For this example, I evaluated a property with a $500,000 appraised value with a homestead exemption.
Below is a detailed breakout of how the annual property taxes are spent:
by Sherry Weesner