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Bait & Switch II

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08/17/07 - County Commissioners pull a fast one on Baby Boomers under 65.

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Provided by: Animation Factory   Tuesday, the County Commissioners at the urging of Commissioner Maurine Dickey flat out hosed anyone younger than 65, under the guise of giving a tax freeze for some seniors. 

Homeowners over 65 get a $69,000 reduction in the valuation of their property before county taxes are calculated.  If your house is valued at $169,000 by the Dallas County Appraisal District (DCAD), you would only be taxed on $100,000.  That's a very generous benefit to Senior homeowners that no one under 65 gets.  Those homeowners who are currently 65 have that $69K reduction in taxable valuation of their homes, and now they will also have their tax rate frozen at 2007 rates.  Isn't that just great?  Well, no, it is not!

If you are not currently 65, you will never get that $69K valuation credit.  You will get your tax rate frozen at whatever rate is in existence when you turn 65.  If you fall into this bracket of homeowners, you can thank Commissioner Dickey for making sure that your senior years will not be as comfortable as those who were 65 before August 14, 2007. 

Some think this is a great thing for seniors.  Many of us saw through it immediately.  Here's a comment from an anonymous Northwest Dallas homeowner who understands the ramifications of what the Commissioners have done to us.

.... It is good news partially. Don't know how old you are. Put a pencil to it, and you can see that it is a tax increase on the under 65 graduated in.  Essentially, it is providing a grandfathering provision to 65 before Jan. 1. Consider the impact of the baby boom generation coming into retirement age beyond this point mostly, and this will not protect the majority. With the removal of the $69,000 exemption and actuarial considerations, it might even qualify as ironic and cruel.

By cruel
, I mean based on the information that fewer and fewer retirees actually are retiring from a single employer or anything close to it,  a reasonable retirement is less likely, so $ will be even more precious without thinking of inflation. SS won't come close to being adequate.

When individuals attend upcoming budget meetings, think about driving home the point that what is necessitating the increase tax is primarily associated with the incompetent handling of county affairs such as the "new computer system", medical care of prisoners, overcrowding, repeated mismanagement, accountability & removal of waste and mismanagement.  Tax payers are again paying for failing to demand prudent meaningful professional management.

That's the whole issue.  The Class of 65 (Baby Boomers) will be turning 65 in 4-5 years, thousands of Dallas County taxpayers.  It was no accident that Commissioner Dickey and the 3 other commissioners who voted with her agreed to this bait and switch scheme of freezing tax rates for 65 year old homeowners.  People who are already 65 and who already have the $69K exemption aren't going to last forever.  That's the bad thing about being over 65.  The Commissioners eliminated a benefit that fewer and fewer will receive each year, and consequently increased potential tax revenue at the expense of future 65 year olds.

I read about this first on and went ballistic.  Got even more upset when a friend circulated an e-mail calling the Commissioners' action as "fantastic news".  Most of the early celebrating was before people learned the Commissioners had used the ploy of assisting senior taxpayers to do away with a much more substantial tax benefit to homeowners after they turn 65 -- the $69K exemption. 

Dallas County Commissioners Meeting Overview
by Tom McGregor
Tue, Aug 14, 2007

The Dallas County Commissioners held their weekly public hearing this morning. They tackled three important issues on the agenda: a proposed property tax rate increase, tax freeze for senior citizens over 65 years old, and added expenses for the County Budget.

Overall, the county Commissioners agreed that a tax hike is necessary to pay for costly improvements of county jails, because they have failed state inspections four years in a row. They voted for a proposed County budget of $474 million for the 2008 fiscal year beginning on October 1. The county tax rate would increase by 1.42 cents per $100 in assessed value of property to 22.81 cents.

Commissioner Maurine Dickey of District 1 called for a vote on her proposal to enact a tax freeze for senior citizens. She claimed that many seniors are house rich but cash poor. She wants the elderly to be given a ?break?. Commissioner John Wiley Price of District 3 opposed the tax freeze saying, ?It doesn?t work for my constituents. The vote was cast 3 to 1 in favor of the tax freeze.

However, the Homestead exemption would be eliminated. This is a measure that discounts $69,000 off the assessed value of a home before the tax rate is applied for those over 65-years old. Those who currently have the exemption will not lose it. Nonetheless, individuals approaching the age of 65 will not be able to take advantage of the tax break in the future.

The Commissioners voted 3 to 1 in favor of a budget proposal to give a 4% pay raise for county employees; hiring five new positions for the District Attorney?s Office, a public defender for DNA evidence review, and constables for truancy work and traffic enforcement. Commissioner Dickey said she supported the pay raise because she wants to make the salaries of county employees ?competitive? with the rest of the nation. ...

Kevin Krause really spells out the bait and switch Commissioner Dickey and her buddies pulled on us.

County set for tax increase, senior freeze; Plan would nix $69,000 exemption for elderly; hike targets jails, raises
By KEVIN KRAUSE / The Dallas Morning News

Dallas County commissioners gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a proposed 6.6 percent increase in the property tax rate next fiscal year while also imposing a tax freeze for elderly and disabled residents to protect them from further increases over time.

However, effective Jan. 1, commissioners also eliminated the $69,000 tax exemption for seniors who turn 65 next year or after. Although those seniors' county taxes will never increase, it will take longer for them to realize as much of a tax savings as they would have gotten without losing the exemption.

The exemption knocks $69,000 off the taxable value of a home before the tax rate is applied. It's one of the highest senior exemptions in the state.

Seniors who currently have the exemption will not lose it.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to raise the property tax rate by 1.42 cents per $100 in assessed value to 22.81 cents. The increase would help pay for required jail costs, new positions and pay raises.

If the rate is approved next month, it would be the county's second tax increase in three years.....

However, seniors 65 and older and the disabled will not pay any extra in county taxes after next year because of the tax freeze.

"We need to balance the tax increase with giving seniors a break," Commissioner Maurine Dickey said.

But it will take eight years before their tax savings under the freeze are greater than what they would have saved had the senior exemption continued without a freeze, according to a county analysis.

... Commissioner John Wiley Price, who cast the only vote against the tax freeze, said it hurts the poor more than the rich.

"If you do the numbers, people would much rather have the $69,000," he said.

Other counties in Texas that passed tax freezes, such as Tarrant and Collin counties, kept their over-65 tax exemptions.
The county's budget shortfall originally was projected to be as high as $43.1 million. But the county saw $27.8 million in additional revenue thanks to
higher-than-expected property value increases and higher court fines and fees. ...

Ms. Dickey, who proposed the senior tax freeze two weeks ago, said she received numerous e-mails and phone calls from seniors supporting the measure. She said home values are continuing to rise each year, making seniors "house-rich and cash-poor."

The tax freeze will cost the county $12 million in lost revenue in 10 years, a county report says. Keeping the over-65 exemption would have cost the county $16.2 million in the 10th year.

Mr. Price said the freeze didn't offer any value to seniors in his district in southern Dallas County. He said home values there are not increasing at the rate they are in Ms. Dickey's district, which includes the Park Cities.

"When you look at the numbers, you cannot justify supporting it," he told other commissioners. "It does nothing for my constituency." ...


But it will take eight years before their tax savings under the freeze are greater than what they would have saved had the senior exemption continued without a freeze, according to a county analysis.

That is absolutely the issue in a nutshell.  Many homeowners will not live long enough past their 65th birthday to see a benefit from the tax freeze that offsets the savings they would receive from the $69K exemption.

The Commissioners already knew their bait and switch ploy will mean a $4.2 million increase in tax revenue for the County from people over 65.  All those who are so excited about helping current senior homeowners apparently think future 65 year old homeowners can fend for themselves.

Commissioner Price is absolutely right on this issue.  Only the more affluent 65+ homeowners will benefit from a tax freeze on their property.  Homes in modest neighborhoods are not increasing in value like those in more upscale areas.  The irony is that a tax freeze does not lock the 65+ homeowner's property tax at a certain amount.  As long as their home is in an area where homes are increasing in value annually due to frequent real estate sales, their taxes are going to go up when their home is evaluated by DCAD, even if based solely on recent sales.  Of course, homeowners who are currently 65 years old or more will have $69K of their home's appraised value exempted from taxation. 

Homeowners who turn 65 next month will not have that exemption.  Ever!

Another North Dallas homeowner shared this e-mail exchange with Commissioner Ken Mayfield:

I just heard that the Senior Homestead exemption is going away for people who are not 65 by Jan. 1. If this is true, it seems like giving with one hand and taking away with the other hand. Am I understanding this correctly?

From: Ken Mayfield
Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2007 4:26 PM
To: *******
Subject: RE: Tax Freeze

You are.

This is the bad thing about responding to a bunch of well meaning but uninformed activists.  Don't just blindly send a letter supporting something when you personally don't have enough information.  It's very likely the individual asking for your help has no better information than you do.  I know several really smart people who got taken in by this bait and switch scheme.   Some wrote letters to the Commissioners to benefit themselves.  Others wrote letters to the Commissioners asking for the senior tax freeze out of genuine concern for senior homeowners.

It's unfortunate that some people live in homes they can't afford.  But, there's the plus factor that their homes have increased in value and they have still marketable property.  Still, other taxpayers should not have to subsidize their homeownership.  When young people are getting taxed to the max at the same time they are trying to furnish and provide a home for themselves and their children, it hardly seems fair for others to pay less taxes.

The real issue is that neither the county or the city, and certainly not the DISD, use the tax dollars we are forced to pay wisely.  Dallas County taxpayers are paying health care for people who are not even here legally.   Although I don't want to subsidize non-Dallas County residents either, I would rather be taken advantage of by them than by illegal aliens.

Neither Collin County or Denton County even have an indigent or charity hospital.  Maybe we shouldn't either.  Maybe those 100 people who donated a million each to the new performance hall could build a new charity hospital and establish a trust fund for its future maintenance, and get all Dallas taxpayers out of the hospital business, regardless of our age.

It's just so hard to trust any politician.  Most the time you have to go with the lesser of two evils. 

Maurine Dickey is a very likeable person, but she has just done a very bad thing to thousands of homeowners who are facing their senior years paying taxes on the full value of their property, rather than benefiting from the $69K exemption they could have expected upon turning 65 years old before she muddied the waters.  Tarrant County voted for a tax freeze for their 65+ seniors and kept the $69K exemption for them.

It's entirely possible that Commissioner Dickey did not know what she was doing or got hoodwinked by some adviser or other commissioner.  I don't know whether she prefers to be thought of as munipulative or stupid.  Either way, she certainly did a number on those of us who had not reached the ripe old age of 65 on August 14, 2007.






  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8