Pct. 4 commissioner Jack Cagle proposes new tax rate plan amid county commission budget impasse

HARRIS COUNTY – Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle outlined a proposed tax reform plan Tuesday that he calls a “compromise” to break a stalemate over the property tax rate.

Under Cagle’s plan, he’s calling for a tax rate that would generate $149 million, versus the $257 million that would be generated by the tax rate supported by Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia.

After the press conference, a spokesperson for Commissioner Cagle told KPRC 2 that his proposed tax rate would be 55.572 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

Of the $149 million in proposed revenue, $56 million would go to law enforcement, $45 million to the hospital district, $24 million to flood control and $24 million to a discretionary fund for the commissioner’s court.

Cagle and fellow Republican commissioner Tom Ramsey have skipped the last two meetings of the commissioners’ court, blocking the Democratic majority from adopting an increased tax rate they say is necessary to operate the growing county’s government during inflation.

During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Cagle said he wants Hidalgo to set a special called meeting that will only be for discussion, not a decision.

“She has said she wants to have debates on the issue and therefore I am calling upon her to set a special meeting so that we can discuss these items without the fear of a predetermined result that would occur,” Cagle said.

Judge Hidalgo issued the following statement after Commissioner Jack Cagle presented his proposed tax plan at a press conference Tuesday afternoon:

“I’m pleased to see Commissioner Cagle make an effort toward making sure that basic Harris County services are funded. The people of Harris County deserve nothing less. Of course, I will remain only cautiously optimistic until Commissioner Cagle commits to attending the meeting where the critical action to actually vote on funding key services would take place.

Crucially, more information is needed to fully understand the Commissioner’s high-level proposal. It’s important for Commissioner Cagle’s team to share and discuss the proposal with Harris County’s budget team so that they–and the members of Commissioners Court–can glean whether the proposal is a realistic option and so that we can put pen to paper with all the numbers. We must establish the fiscal viability of this proposal and any others that may come forward.

As to calling a special meeting, I hesitate to do that now for two reasons: 1) I’m still waiting to be medically cleared, and 2) I want to make sure that the proposal will be presented in detail to the budget team so that we can have a fact-based conversation about it. More realistically, if the proposal is ironed out with our Budget team, I would consider calling a discussion-only meeting on Tuesday, separate from the Commissioners Court meeting later that day. "

Statement from Commissioner Adrian Garcia:

“Commissioner Cagle’s proposal is not serious and there are many questions about his numbers that need to be answered. On our end, we have tried to negotiate in good faith. I had a scheduled meeting with Commissioner Ramsey for today and that was canceled shortly before Commissioner’s Cagle press conference was announced. We have gone above and beyond in trying to find compromise in addressing all of the issues the county faces particularly crime, violence, and public safety as the primary concerns we have. However, because Harris County continues to grow, we also must consider every other basic service the county is responsible for. We can’t govern a county this size by negotiating in the press. Instead, we look forward to our colleagues making their case when they show up to court.”

Statement from Commissioner Rodney Ellis:

“It’s hard to debate someone who doesn’t come to the table in good faith or offer real numbers. This afternoon, Commissioner Cagle couldn’t tell you what tax rate he’s actually proposing or how it impacts other departments responsible for protecting the health, safety, and well-being of Harris County families. How is that a plan?

Cagle and Ramsey are the ones blocking a budget that will fund raises for law enforcement and invest in a new cadet class for the Sherriff’s Office without gutting health care, mental health, flood protection, pollution control, and many other vital services that people need and expect.”

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