Fiscal conservatism is alive-and-well in Texas’ 3rd largest county.

As evidence, consider that Tarrant County officials last year approved a tax rate below the no-new-revenue (NNR) tax rate, resulting in an astonishing “13.17 percent” rate reduction. As impressive as that was though, county leaders took things one step further by creating a 10% local option homestead exemption (LOHE). For those unfamiliar with LOHEs, state law permits “any taxing unit to adopt a local option residence homestead exemption of up to 20 percent of a property’s appraised value.” Combined, these twin initiatives lowered tax bills in a noticeable way.

Not content to stop there, county officials are back at it again this year. In fact, last week, county leaders increased the LOHE to “the state-allowed maximum of 20% for both Tarrant County and the Hospital District.” In so doing, the full value of the exemption will reduce the tax bill for the owner of a $350,000 home by $136.15 per year. It’s not yet clear whether county officials will adopt the NNR tax rate (or something lower!) for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins October 1. But all things considered, the odds favor a taxpayer-friendly rate being adopted in the near future, meaning that even more relief may be forthcoming soon.

All of this obviously benefits North Texas residents to a great degree; but it also holds value for Texans elsewhere too. See, Tarrant County is setting forth an example for others to follow. It’s providing a roadmap for other county governments, demonstrating both the possible avenues by which tax relief might manifest as well as the popularity of following through.

If this heavily-populated county can deliver tax relief year-after-year, then other county governments have no excuse not to be doing the same.

Hopefully, other local leaders are taking note of Tarrant County’s tax relief framework and working toward developing their own. But in county’s where this is not the case, residents must get vocal and press their elected officials to adopt policies that will lower taxes, like:

  • Adopting the no-new-revenue tax rate for fiscal year 2025;
  • Creating or increasing the local option homestead exemption to its statutory maximum;
  • Returning surplus fund balance to taxpayers through a temporary rate reduction; and
  • Committing to undergo a third-party efficiency audit of its budget and operations to identify waste, fraud, and abuse.

There are, of course, many other ways to reduce the cost of county government—see here, for example—but it’s time for Texans to speak up and let their local governments know that tax relief ought to be a top priority this budget cycle. In some cases, that may be an uphill battle. In other cases, as in Tarrant County, the framework may already be well-developed and moving along. But in every case, residents should let their desires be known and cite to examples where this sort of good governance is already in play.