Petition drive underway to force tax rollback election

Van Zandt County Pct. 2 citizen Ronnie Jones has been working for the past several weeks seeking enough signatures on petitions to force the VZC Commissioners Court to call for a tax rollback election in 2018.

With the help of approximately 45 other volunteers, Jones is confident that the necessary number of over 2,500 signatures can be reached prior to the Dec. 12, 2017, deadline.

The VZC Clerk’s office had previously reported that at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the county were needed to sign the petitions and force the commissioners court to call for a tax rollback election but that figure is actually seven percent, according to Elsa Smith, the Chief Election Deputy in the VZC Clerk’s office.

“I am the one who started this petition effort but I do not know if I would consider myself to be the leader of this effort,” said Jones. “I don’t want the commissioners to pass a tax. If we need to pass a tax, I want the commissioners to tell us what it will be used for.”

On Sept. 12, the VZC Commissioners Court approved a 2017 tax year rate of $.615847 per $100 valuation after conducting two public hearings last month.

The 2017 tax year rate exceeds the preceding year’s tax rate ($.585847), the effective tax rate ($.552805) and the rollback tax rate ($.587864).

The effective tax rate is the total tax rate needed to raise the same amount of property tax revenue for VZC from the same properties in both the 2016 and 2017 tax years.

The rollback tax rate is the highest tax rate that VZC may adopt before voters are entitled to petition for an election to limit the rate that may be approved to the rollback rate.

“The people that I have talked to do not want to see an increase in taxes,” pointed out Jones. “If we have to, cut services after the commissioners quit spending money. This is the message that the taxpayers are giving to their commissioners. The issue is not to cut services or people. The issue is for the commissioners to quit spending money.”

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