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Chapter 6
Focus on Special Purpose District Taxes

Special purpose districts (SPDs) are units of local government that provide services to a specific group of constituents. The Legislature first authorized SPDs in the form of water districts in 1904 to provide irrigation services. Today, 1,376 SPDs assess and collect property taxes to provide services that includes city transit, crime control, county development and improvement, economic development, emergency services, fire prevention, health, hospitals, community colleges, library, municipal and town development and improvement, utilities, noxious weed control, ports and roads.

Texas Property Tax Code Section 5.09 authorizes the Comptroller to provide detailed property tax information for special purpose taxing units in its annual report. This chapter provides 2005 SPD property tax information from data reported to PTD.

The average tax rate for an SPD was $0.3967, a 1.3 percent increase from 2004’s average of $0.3917. More than half of the tax rate is dedicated to the interest and sinking fund (I & S), or debt service. In 2005, SPDs dedicated, on average, $0.2143 to debt as compared to $0.1881 for maintenance and operations (M & O). The debt service rate, however, decreased in 2005 by 3.1 percent and the M & O fund increased by 6.5 percent. Grimes County Emergency Services District (EMS) #1 assesses the highest tax rate of all Texas SPDs at $2.95 per $100 of valuation. All of it is dedicated to debt service. The Hill Country Underground Water District only collects $0.0001 per $100 of valuation. Seventy-eight SPDs do not have an M & O tax while 703 do not have one for I & S.

These rates generated $3.6 billion in tax revenue for SPDs, a decrease of $23.5 million from 2004. The largest SPD, in terms of tax levy is the Harris County Hospital District with revenue of $403.5 million (Table 30). Four of the top 10 are hospitals or health related districts, five are college districts and one is a flood control district. At the other end of the spectrum is the Brushy Creed Municipal Utility District – Cornerstone with $41 in tax levy.

Table 30: Top Ten Special Purpose Districts in Tax Levy – 2005

Special District Name Market Value Taxable Value M&O Tax Rate I&S Tax Rate Total Tax Rate Tax Levy
Harris County Hospital District $248,905,753,110 $209,920,025,131 $0.1922 $0.0000 $0.1922 $403,466,288
Dallas County Hospital District $161,858,931,780 $135,980,250,614 $0.2540 $0.0000 $0.2540 $345,389,837
Tarrant County Hospital District $107,372,723,947 $97,108,044,361 $0.2354 $0.0000 $0.2354 $228,589,423
University Health System $71,955,345,812 $69,671,104,246 $0.2439 $0.0000 $0.2439 $169,906,225
Tarrant County College $107,372,723,947 $97,759,681,917 $0.1305 $0.0089 $0.1394 $136,257,445
Dallas County Community College District $161,858,931,780 $141,433,708,849 $0.0778 $0.0038 $0.0816 $115,409,907
Houston Community College System $90,171,406,854 $81,183,190,169 $0.0813 $0.0144 $0.0957 $77,692,313
North Harris-Montgomery College District $68,292,223,288 $64,203,852,503 $0.0860 $0.0347 $0.1207 $77,494,050
Alamo Community College District $71,955,345,812 $67,740,148,219 $0.0923 $0.0148 $0.1071 $72,515,829
Harris County Flood Control District $248,905,753,110 $209,913,957,364 $0.0273 $0.0059 $0.0332 $69,691,434

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, 2005 Self-Reports.

Table 31 groups the SPDs according to the appraisal districts in which they are located and lists the appraisal districts in alphabetical order. Some SPDs appear more than once because more than one appraisal district may appraise property for them.

PDF fileTable 31: Special Purpose Districts 2005 Property Tax Data (PDF, 1.28 MB)

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