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Chapter 7
Focus on Special-Purpose District Taxes

Special-purpose districts (SPDs) are units of local government that provide services to specific groups of constituents. The Legislature first authorized SPDs in the form of water districts in 1904 to provide irrigation services.

Most Texas SPDs have the authority to levy taxes on personal and commercial property. Today, 1,467 SPDs assess and collect property taxes to provide services including city transit, crime control, county development and improvement, economic development and emergency services.

The average tax rate levied by SPDs was $0.400963 per $100 of assessed value in 2007, 5.8 percent less than 2006’s average of $0.4256. Nearly half of the tax rate average is dedicated to I&S, or debt service. In 2007, SPDs dedicated an average $0.188793 of their taxes to debt, compared to $0.212171 for M&O. In 2007, the Dallas County Flood Control District assessed the highest tax rate of all Texas SPDs, at $2.8355 per $100 of valuation with $2.8338 dedicated to debt service. The Gillespie County Water Control and Improvement District only collects $0.0001 per $100 of valuation, all of which is dedicated to M&O. Fifty-seven SPDs do not have an M&O tax, while 837 do not have one for I&S.

In 2007, these rates generated more than $4.5 billion in tax revenue for SPDs, $540.9 million more than in 2006. The largest SPD in terms of its tax levy was the Harris County Hospital District, with 2007 revenue of $484.5 million (Exhibit 28).

Exhibit 28

Top Ten Special Purpose Districts in Tax Levy, 2007
Special Purpose District Name Taxable Value Total Tax Rate Tax Levy
Harris County Hospital District $252,326,901,825 $0.192000 $484,467,652
Dallas County Hospital District $163,509,432,643 $0.254000 $415,313,959
Tarrant County Hospital District $114,718,575,963 $0.230397 $264,308,157
University Health System $92,221,969,395 $0.237408 $218,942,333
Tarrant County College $115,426,065,241 $0.139380 $160,880,850
Dallas County Community College District $170,343,454,867 $0.080400 $136,956,138
Collin County Junior College District $68,687,711,732 $0.196984 $135,303,802
Alamo Community College District $90,240,395,369 $0.134550 $121,418,452
North Harris-Montgomery College District $104,050,490,175 $0.115000 $119,517,778
Houston Community College System $102,446,470,352 $0.092000 $94,315,103

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Six of the top 10 SPDs are community college districts, and the other four are hospital or health-related districts. At the other end of the spectrum is Sunfield Municipal Utility District #1 in Travis County, with a 2007 tax levy of $53.

Full details of SPD property values are available on the Comptroller’s Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/spdvalues/proptax/annrpt07 (Excel, 317 KB). The data 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.

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