Citizens Meet to Debate Proposed Tax Freeze
Denton residents gathered last Thursday night at the Seven Mile Café for a debate weighing the pros and cons of a proposed citywide tax freeze for homeowners who are 65 or older or disabled.
The vote on the proposed freeze on ad-valorem taxes will be on the May 6 ballot. If adopted, the freeze would go into effect next year. Stephen Sullivan argued in favor of the tax, stating it would help protect elderly residents on fixed income, while Alfredo Sanchez argued against it, stating the freeze might have unintended consequences in the future. The House District 64 Club of the Denton County Democratic Party hosted the debate.
Sullivan said that the freeze is intended to help seniors who are living on Social Security and the disabled, and the freeze wouldn’t mean higher taxes for other groups.
“Why should we put these people in harm’s way, [in danger of] losing the biggest investment of their life, which is their home… When all we need to do is keep their expenses stable?,” Sullivan said.
Sanchez argued the freeze wouldn’t help seniors who rent their homes, and could place a greater burden on younger Denton residents in the future.
“I’m a landlord. So what am I going to do when taxes go up? I have to pass that on to my renters,” Sanchez said. “Seniors who rent from me live month-to-month. This is going to do nothing for them.”
“To pit one group against another is negative, I think, because everyone will eventually turn 65,” Sullivan said. “Everyone will benefit.”
Sanchez said the freeze can’t be altered once it’s adopted, which might pose a problem if the city needs to raise taxes in the future.
“The tax freeze doesn’t give the city an option,” Sanchez said. “The only option they’ll have is, “Hey, let’s go tax those young people over there.””
Sullivan argued that other cities who had instituted the tax freeze has raised their taxes, citing Plano, Lewisville and Mesquite as examples.
Sanchez said seniors already have more tax exemptions than any other group in Denton and the more expensive a resident’s home, the more beneficial the freeze will be to them. Anyone who owns an expensive home in Robson Ranch, for example, would be receiving a tax exemption meant for people who struggle financially.
“There are unintended consequences,” Sullivan said. “Yes, people do benefit from laws that are in place to help certain people. Our whole tax code has developed that way. Good, bad or indifferent, this is no different.”
A video of the entire debate is available at https://vimeo.com/202532597.
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