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Things to know about proposed Harris County property tax rate hike

HOUSTON – For the first time since 1996, the Harris County Commissioners Court has proposed a property tax rate increase. 

What is the current rate and what is the proposed new rate?

The current rate is about 63 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed increase would make the new rate about 65 cents.

How much would it affect Harris County homeowners?

The average Harris County homeowner would see their property tax bill go up approximately $38, according to Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

"It's about another $3 per month so that we would have another $132 million in the general fund. It's better to have the money and not need it than to need it and not have it," he said. 

What's the argument against it?

The two Republicans on the County Commission say the hike is unfair to taxpayers, many of whom are already struggling with higher property tax bills after Hurricane Harvey.

Commissioner Jack Cagle says the proposed property tax hike is a cover for wasteful spending on the part of the Democrats on the commission. 

"We've had a reserve, we've blown it and now they want to increase the taxes on the taxpayers hit with Harvey to say we want another reserve," Cagle told Channel 2 News. 

Cagle said he and fellow Republican Commissioner Steve Radack could use a little-known loophole in state law to block the measure. 

State law requires a quorum of four instead of the regular three when it comes to votes on tax rates. If the Republicans don't show up, the vote could not take place. 

Cagle wouldn't disclose whether he would be at the Oct. 8 meeting, but Radack said it was on his calendar and he planned to be there. 

When can the public voice their opinions to commissioners?

The second public hearing is Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m. during the regularly scheduled Commissioners Court meeting. 

The third public hearing will take place Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. during the regularly scheduled Commissioners Court meeting. The is also when the hike will be voted on at that meeting.