Grand Prairie Mayor Has Big Goals
GRAND PRAIRIE – A recent letter to Grand Prairie residents from Mayor Ron Jensen proposed some goals for the new fiscal year.
The first one was to make it the first time in 20 years to drop the tax rate in the city. The second goal was to raise homestead exemptions when possible, a third to educate residents about tax payments and a fourth to remind citizens of the level of service provided by the city.
“As we enter the budget season, I’ve asked for us to find a way to lower the city’s property tax rate, even if just a little bit, which would be the first time in 20 years,” said Mayor Jensen. “I feel it is important to show residents we are listening to and care about what they say. We know that there are many residents who see their property tax bill increase because the value of their home is increasing. This proposed property tax reduction is one way of showing that we hear you.”
With many cities really feeling the hit from the pandemic, Grand Prairie seems to be in a unique position to be able to lower taxes.
Delivering a Balanced Budget
Jensen said “We always budget conservatively, which helped. The city’s tax base is diversified, and not overly dependent upon one segment such as retail. Federal and state money provided due to the pandemic helped. That said, we did experience loss of revenues, but we cut expenses in the early months of COVID 2020. We also conducted business virtually and saw increases in building permits, landfill use, and kept other revenue generators open at least partially in accordance with current regulations during 2020.”
The city is in the early stages of the budget process and have not made all decisions yet regarding budget cuts, property tax decrease or homestead exemption changes.
Jensen said the city will deliver a balanced budget that does not affect the City services currently provided.
Regarding the homestead exemption goal Jensen explained ,“I’m not looking to raise the homestead exemption the same year as we lower the property tax rate. We’ve increased the homestead and senior exemptions in recent past years because it has a greater effect on a resident’s tax bill.”
Grand Prairie Homestead Exemption Increased In 2020
It was just last year Grand Prairie increased the homestead exemption from 7.5 percent to 10 percent.
“If you own your home on January 1 and it is your primary residence, the greater of 10 percent of the appraised value or $5,000 is exempt from city property taxes,” Jensen explained. “Based on an average Grand Prairie home value of $167,000, which includes the homestead exemption, the city’s portion of your property tax bill is only $94 a month or $1,128 annually. These days, most households pay more than that for cable TV or internet.”
In addition, if a resident is age 65 on January an additional $45,000 exemption on the value of their property may be applied for at the appraisal district, and the city portion of the tax bill freezes, never to be more than it is at that point.
Jensen said he is not proposing changes to that in fiscal 2021-2022, but would want the city to look at it and the homestead exemption in future years.
Grand Prairie ISD Makes Up 56% Of Property Taxes
“It is important to realize that the city portion of your property tax is only about 22 percent of your total property tax,” he added. “In the Dallas County portion of Grand Prairie, the remainder are GPISD: 56 percent; Dallas Hospital District: 10 percent; Dallas Community College District: four percent and Dallas County eight percent.”
Grand Prairie’s property tax rate has not increased in the past 29 years. The last increase was in 1992. The property tax rate was reduced in 1997 and 2000.
“It is an exciting time to be in Grand Prairie,” Jensen concluded. “With the direction provided by the City Council, new and exciting developments have come to our city in the past few years like IKEA, Living Spaces, Main Event, Chicken N Pickle. Over this next year, we expect to see continued growth in our retail, corporate and industrial sectors. All of this new growth means more sales tax revenue, which lowers the reliance on property tax revenue to support city services and increases job creation. As we develop our upcoming city budget, we will continue with our conservative budget strategy. The City Council is committed to delivering all our important services at a great value.”