Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar

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Chapter 8
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, 1,609 SPDs assess and collect property taxes to provide services including city transit, crime control, county development and improvement, economic development and emergency services. That is an increase of 143 SPDs collecting the property tax.

The average tax rate levied by SPDs was $0.404223 per $100 of assessed value in 2008, a less than 1 percent increase over 2007's average of $0.400963. Nearly half of the tax rate average is dedicated to I&S, or debt service. In 2008, SPDs dedicated an average of $0.186986 of their taxes to debt, compared with $$0.217237 for M&O. In 2008, the Dallas County Flood Control District assessed the highest tax rate of all Texas SPDs, at $2.835540 per $100 of valuation with $2.333840 dedicated to debt service. The Gillespie County Water Control and Improvement District only collects $0.000100 per $100 of valuation, all of which is dedicated to M&O. Fifty-nine SPDs do not have an M&O tax, while 910 do not have one for I&S.

In 2008, these rates generated almost $5 billion in tax revenue for SPDs. The largest SPD in terms of its tax levy was the Harris County Hospital District, with 2008 revenue of $532.9 million (Exhibit 39).

Exhibit 39
Top Ten Special Purpose Districts in Tax Levy, 2008

Special Purpose District Name Taxable Value Total Tax Rate Tax Levy
Harris County Hospital District $277,535,708,485 $0.192000 $532,868,560
Dallas County Hospital District $172,095,907,964 $0.254000 $437,123,606
Tarrant County Hospital District $124,773,607,399 $0.227897 $284,355,308
University Health System $102,509,604,536 $0.261022 $267,572,620
Tarrant County College $125,450,764,675 $0.137960 $173,071,875
Dallas County Community College District $179,287,162,103 $0.089400 $160,282,723
Alamo Community College District $100,548,087,286 $0.135855 $136,599,604
Lone Star College System $113,805,334,957 $0.110100 $125,299,673
Houston Community College System $112,890,718,254 $0.092430 $109,859,147
Austin Community College District $93,405,958,368 $0.095400 $89,109,284

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 North Fort Worth Water Control & Improvement District #1 in Denton County, with a 2008 tax levy of $85.

Full details of SPD property values are available on the Comptroller's Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/annual08/2008_spd_values.xls. 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 because they overlap appraisal district boundaries.

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