Opinion: Dallas’ Tax Rate Trojan Horse

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Tax rate buttons on a calculator | Image by eamesBot

The Story of the Trojan horse is first mentioned in the Odyssey. It tells a tale of how the Greek Soldiers were able to take the city of Troy after holding it in a decade long unsuccessful siege. After the traditional tactics from the siege didn’t work, the Greeks develops a cunning plan to build a giant wooden horse and leave it outside the gates of Troy as an offering to the Gods.

The Greeks then pretended to give up and sail away. The City of Troy rejoiced, opened the gates, and pulled the large wooden horse into the city. Unbeknownst to the Trojans, the Greeks had placed their most ferocious warriors inside the horse. The Trojans began celebrating what appeared to be a victory, but quickly realized the reality of what had transpired as the warriors exited the horse and took the city of Troy.

This story is a legend, and whether it really happened is still debated today. The meaning, however, has been relevant since the story was first told. Throughout history ideas, initiatives, and gifts have been sold as “perceived benefits”, when they actually were negative and were damaging. I’m sure we can all think of a couple examples of this strategy being deployed in recent times.

One example of a Trojan Horse is the “Tax Rate Reduction” proposed by Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax in the 2023-2024 Fiscal Year Budget. The City has proposed a 0.65 cent per $100 valuation property tax reduction. Most people read this and think, “That’s a Win! The amount I pay in property taxes will go down this year”.

Not so fast! The “0.8% Tax Rate Reduction” is actually a Trojan Horse. Inside the gift of reducing the “Tax Rate” less than 1 percent, is a 10.5% increase in property valuation. This means everyone will pay about 9.5% more in property taxes this year than they paid the previous.

I brought up this fact to the Dallas City Council when I spoke in support of Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn’s “No New Revenue” plan on August 23rd. This plan would have reduced the tax rate enough to offset the increases in valuation and would have kept what everyone in Dallas is paying for property taxes close to the same as last year.

Dallas already has one of the highest property tax rates in North Texas, which is one of the major reasons why companies are relocating to the suburbs and not to the “City of Dallas”. The Metroplex Civic & Business Association encourages every homeowner and future homeowner to reach out to their City council member via phone or email and express their desire to significantly reduce the property tax rate. The Dallas City Council finalizes the 2023-2024 Budget on September 20th, so act quickly.

Do your research, and don’t be fooled. There are many council members that preach affordable housing and those same council members are voting for this budget to make it less affordable, and especially so for those who can barely afford it in the first place.

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