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Call to cut city tax rate goes nowhere

Jayme Frase, Houston Chronicle
Published 7:37 pm, Wednesday, October 16, 2013
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Approved by the council

1 An economic development agreement to have the Houston Parks Board maintain the Bayou Greenways 2020 trails with public funds.

1 An economic development agreement with The Westchase District.

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The City Council voted Wednesday to keep Houston's property tax rate the same, rejecting a call from Councilwoman Helena Brown to cut it in the face of rising property values.

Brown was the lone dissenter, voting against maintaining the rate at 63.875 cents per $100 of assessed value. She had moved to reduce the rate by a penny.

"We're going to sacrifice the taxpayer, but not pet projects like hike and bike trails," Brown said, taking a dig at another item on the agenda to sign an agreement with the Houston Parks Board to maintain trails in Bayou Greenspace 2020 initiative.

The campaign of Ben Hall, Mayor Annise Parker's top challenger in the Nov. 5 election, issued a statement after the council meeting, calling for a 2-cent decrease in the rate.

"We must reduce the regulatory and tax burdens on Houstonians in order to promote and sustain economic growth, not continuously drive up costs and drive out business," Hall stated.

Sue Davis, spokeswoman for Parker's re-election campaign, fired back with a statement: "Ben Hall should focus on paying his own taxes on time instead of making empty proposals. Mr. Hall is simply not credible on taxes. He's already proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in big spending plans that will raise your taxes dramatically and put vital city services like police and fire at risk."