Ah, it's that time of year again. There's a crisp chill in the air. The sound of Christmas music is gently echoing throughout malls around the city. There are smiles on all the children's faces as they wait with great anticipation for that one special man to bring them something...Tax Assessor-Colle ... More >>
Government shutdown gets personal for one Houston kid.
It looks like the federal government will be back up and running soon, but the damage may already be done where the Keystone XL Pipeline is concerned. That's good news, bad news or that which doesn't much matter if you're against the pipeline, for it or politely indifferent, respectively. The Keyst ... More >>
As we drink our morning coffee and watch President Obama talk about how avoidable the federal government shutdown is and hear Republicans counter with their arguments, it's important to note that there have actually been several government shutdowns over the last few decades. So while this is more ... More >>
The Houston Independent School District may be about to get a little more in the tax dollars department. Next week the HISD school board will consider a 4 cent property tax rate increase, bumping it up to $1.1967 per $100 taxable value. If the move is approved by the HISD school board this will be ... More >>
Last week, Gladys House had every reason to think she was about to see her property auctioned off for failure to pay her taxes, before someone swooped in to loan her the money. "I always felt like it was going to be all right. I just didn't know how it would happen," House said. Linebarger Gogga ... More >>
We don't know who first came up with the phrase "you can't get good help nowadays," but whoever did likely realized the importance of having a staffer interview someone before hiring. It's a valuable personnel lesson ingrained in Yevette Lauren Walton and Lakisha Lashell Rogers, but for all their p ... More >>
Death and taxes are the only certainties in life, but in the case of Gladys House, the actual tax bill has been a question she's been wrestling with since the late 1990s. House is a longtime Fourth Ward activist and head of the Freedmen's Town Association who has fought for years to preserve the ... More >>
HCAD fights owners of moderate housing for every single assessment penny. So why is it routinely handing out tax breaks worth several millions to big corporations?
In 2012, the Harris County Appraisal District valued Robert Mandala's modest Spring home at $59,500. The property-tax agent who represented Mandala said HCAD, while establishing a value, purposely ignored the lower priced homes in the neighborhood and grabbed sales numbers from the most expensive pr ... More >>
New Chair Dan Patrick is making his mark on the Senate Education Committee early, putting his goals for school choice front and center on his agenda. The clamor over school choice will likely drown out many of Patrick's other goals for the session: expanding career and technology courses; dropping ... More >>
If Mitt Romney won't tell you which need to be closed, we will.
It's a fact of life that bears repeating: The IRS does not fuck around, no matter who you are. Legendary musician Chuck Berry received a reminder of this universal truth the hard way 33 years ago this month. Only three days after playing a gig on the White House lawn for President Jimmy Carter, the ... More >>
Could be required reading in all of HISD next year.Superintendent Terry Grier is making another run at cutting Houston ISD expenses by standardizing school schedules throughout the district, after last year's narrow rejection of the measure by board trustees. His administration says that by ... More >>
Photo by Mandy OaklanderPaula Harris helmed an emergency HISD meeting this morning.This morning, an emergency meeting was called by HISD officials who are growing more desperate as severe budget cuts looms closer. About 10 parents sat in Pin Oak Middle School's cafeteria and listened to board ... More >>
Ron Paul's time to shineThe New York Times has officially announced it is time to stop laughing at Ron Paul, the Sage of Brazoria County, and pay attention to his vindication. The paper writes that Paul's detractors must eat crow now that the Tea Party and Libertarians have raised him up as ... More >>
Damn those earmarks!! Except mineBrave, insightful, brilliant, not-at-all-crazy U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann founded the Congressional Tea Party Caucus to save America from Muslim presidents and stop federal spending by stopping earmarks, the modern term for pork-barrel projects. Republicans i ... More >>
UPDATE: News flash from Houston ISD: Summer School will go on, just maybe not in the way it previously operated. And the $19 million shortfall may not be quite that high. See end of post. Photo by Margaret Downing Terry Grier: you're on your own, principalsHouston ISD principals are going ... More >>
Gallegos is writing, but he's not hearing back from GrierState Senator Mario Gallegos has continued to dictate letters since calling for Houston ISD superintendent Terry Grier to leave in an earlier letter, saying Grier was going to ruin the lives of students here.In his latest set of letters -- ... More >>
Could Valero empty the coffers of Texas schools?
How long will the embattled Metro president last? Hair Balls presents today's installment of the Frank Wilson Survival Watch. 1. The Federal Transit Administration sends Frank Wilson a damning letter. Dorval Carter, the FTA's chief counsel, alerted Wilson at the end of last week that the feds are ... More >>
Fondren Middle School is "a blackboard jungle. The efforts that are required there are Herculean...The kids at Fondren have to learn how to come to school and where the school is located."Trustee Larry Marshall, not known for mincing words when he considers something unacceptable (famous Larr ... More >>
Photo by Margaret DowningUnder a proposal unveiled today by Superintendent Terry Grier and his staff, Jones High School, for years now one of the most academically troubled schools in the Houston school district, will be turned into a science, technology, engineering and math magnet with a specia ... More >>
Illustration courtesy FBISDWe've noted before the Fort Bend school district's plans to build a very expensive but not overly needed "Science Center" that will take the place of all those labs in individual schools.The price tag is around $24 million, the plans are by an architectural firm that sp ... More >>
The City of Houston and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority are currently suing multiple travel websites such as Orbitz and Priceline over tax revenues it claims the sites owe it. Online travel sites pay wholesale prices to hotels for rooms and then customers book those rooms at a mark-up fro ... More >>
Bugged about property taxes? Buy a skyscraper.
The county says a candidate's home value is no White lie
Mayoral candidate Michael Berry might want to vet his own supporters' bill-paying histories
Will local groups get hammered by the post-terrorist hotel tax dive?
Questions about conflicts of interest and motives cloud a $77 million city housing deal
Two trustees didn't pay their bills, even if HCCS wants yours to go higher
Want a subsidy for your corporate expansion? Local governments are ready with millions in property-tax abatements -- and very little oversight.
The city's first TIRZ set many precedents -- not all of them good
An A.G.'s opinion only adds to the questions over Houston's special tax districts
The city of Houston is exploiting loopholes in state law to lavish big bucks on private developers
Special tax zones are already stimulating growth-a thriving cottage industry of attorneys, lobbyists, high paid consultants, developers and questionable financial projections
The city of Houston is being carved into special taxing districts, promising windfalls for some, financial burdens for others
For Bush, the legislative session shows it's better to look good than do good
With help from Democrats Pete Laney and Bob Bullock, Bush has been a Republican governor Texans love. But who'll be his pals if he sets his sights on the presidency?
Traffic congestion will remain a problem for westside streets as the Westpark Tollroad and the HOV-lane projects are stalled
Joe Fuentes has no staff, no office, no documentation of the people he says he's helped, but hey, he's a good guy. Let's give him half a million dollars-plus.
Big money, big lobbyists, big tax breaks. The Mills Corporation is bringing one of its "megamalls" to Katy, and it's hardly business as usual in the little town on the prairie.
Don't like the IRS? Neither does Bill Archer. And now the mild-mannered Houston congressman is pushing a radical plan to shut it down.
What are the penalties in Harris County's tax collection deal with Heard, Goggan?
The hospital district gives the county $30 million, it gets a budget back. Good deal.
When the tax assessor raises the value of one house on a block through the roof, the question is: Who's next?