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BOMA for recapture

A group that represents property owners who would be directly affected if the recapture vote goes down and detachment results has endorsed a Yes vote on the recapture referendum.


A local trade association for commercial property owners has come out in favor of a controversial vote that would send millions of local tax dollars to the state to be distributed among poorer school districts.

The local chapter of the Building Owners & Managers Association warned this week that rejecting the so-called recapture measure could saddle some of the city’s premier commercial properties with higher tax bills and make them less competitive. BOMA’s local head says there are simply too many unknowns.

“It’s a huge concern for commercial real estate,” chapter CEO Tammy Betancourt said.


On Nov. 8, voters will be asked to authorize the coming recapture payment. But Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has called on voters to reject the measure in hope lawmakers will make meaningful changes to the school funding system during next year’s legislative session.

That’s a gamble Betancourt does not want to take. If the recapture is turned down, the most valuable properties within HISD’s boundaries would be reassigned to another, as-yet-undetermined district for property tax purposes. Depending on the rates in the recipient district, owners could see their already soaring tax bills rise even more.

That could affect scores of high-profile properties, including downtown’s Houston Center, Pennzoil Place and Chase Tower. Betancourt said some owners could face an unfair competitive advantage if they are paying a different tax rate than their neighbor.

“It puts the whole market into question,” she said.

Moreover, the ballot measure does not appear to be widely understood.

“It seems like the bulk of the people aren’t aware of the issue,” said Brett Williams, director of property management for Houston-based PM Realty Group, which owns and manages commercial properties. “This kind of came out of nowhere for us three or four weeks ago.”

Well, I’d say the first time people started paying attention to this was about a month ago when the Chron first urged a No vote on the referendum, so to that extent this has snuck up on them. The HISD Board voted to put the measure on the ballot in August and three members of the Board were speaking out against it in early September, so it was possible to see some of this coming before then, though I doubt anyone would have expected this level of interest or antipathy. It’s a tough position for them to be in, but that’s part of the logic that underpins the No-vote advocacy – detachment is such a bad option and property owners will hate it so much that it will increase the pressure on the Lege to Do Something about it. We’ll see if they can gain any traction or if they’ll wind up playing the role in Austin that has been envisioned for them by referendum opponents.

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  1. Ross says:

    I voted Yes to pay the funds, because I don’t think the Legend cares one bit about the outcome, and will ignore any pressure from big property owners.

  2. voter_worker says:

    I also voted yes. Conjecture that property owners will be aggravated enough to “do something” about the Legislature is no less valid in the yes scenario as the property owners/managers are already sorely aggrieved for having been put in this position. Detachment may also cloud the eligibility of voters registered at detached properties to vote in HISD elections.

  3. Huchipapa says:

    Vote “No”. The Legislature’s hand needs to be forced to fix the school funding issue. The time to have been deeply concerned regarding the impact on local taxes was several years ago when it came on Houston’s radar screen that property values were moving towards putting the District in Recapture. Voting “Yes” just certifies the current cuts to the school budgets and ensures they’ll continue to get bigger. Is that really the way you want YOUR schools funded?

    Think about it – it’s ok to send your tax money elsewhere?

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    HISD could just lower the tax bills enough that they could zero out what they otherwise would have paid the state. Of course, that would be acting like an evil conservative or libertarian…

  5. joe says:

    @bill that’s not how it works. that’s not how any of this works.

  6. Neither Here Nor There says:

    Most people did not understand the proposition. Even when I tried to explain it they were baffled. Like most of you I vote yes.

  7. Ross says:

    @Huchipapa, do you really think the Lege is going to give a crap what a few large property owners in Houston think? I do not want to permanently lose $18 billion in taxable value, thus raising my taxes even more. I think we are better off having a large number of districts paying recapture, giving a good chance that the state Supreme Court will rule that it is an unconstitutional statewide property tax.