Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Lawsuits may hold up tax relief, teacher pensions

Don't spend your big school property tax cut for Christmas, yet. The tax savings, along with a raise in teacher pensions, are on hold because of lawsuits challenging the elections with accusations about voting machines irregularities.

State Senator Robert Nichols told a gathering in Orange Tuesday morning the governor cannot certify the election until the lawsuits are resolved. That could take months, which means counties may have to mail out new tax statements with the full appraisal values instead of the $100,000 homestead exemption on school taxes for homeowners.

The added exemption was set to save individual homeowners hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars in school taxes during the next two years. Many senior citizens and lower income homeowners saw their school tax bills cut down to zero with the change. Tax payments are due on January 31.

The amendments also included a cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers that would be their first pension raise in 20 years. The added money has been set to go into January payments. The Texas Legislature approved the increase, but needed voter approval to move the money to cover the raise.

Also, having to recalculate tax bills and mail new statements will cost counties personnel time and postage costs.

According to Texas law, a lawsuit challenge to an election cannot be heard in court earlier than 45 days after an election, or later than 180 days after the election. The election was on November 7.

The legislature is currently in a special session that is set to end on Wednesday. Members are working to see if they can quickly get a bill approved and to the governor that would change the time wait for hearings on elections.

Currently, the proposed requirement is for courts to hear an election challenge within 50 days of the election. That would put the hearings at the end of December.

The Texas Tribune, a non-profit online publication specializing in coverage of state government, reports at least six lawsuits have been filed in counties of Texas. One was filed in state district court in Travis County, which includes Austin.

The Tribune said the lawsuits have similar working and two were filed by Jarrett Woodward, an activist with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in claiming widespread conspiracy theories about voting that have been disproved in courts across the country.

The Texas Secretary of State's office certified all voting machines and procedures across the state for the November election. The position is filled by the appointment of the governor and confirmed by the state senate. Jane Nelson holds the position now.


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