Written by: Patrick Price

Property Taxes played a fairly significant role in the recent state polls. To the surprise of many—especially considering global and economic uncertainty coupled with inflation—many measures were approved that will increase property taxes at local levels.


  • Arizona State Flag

    Voters approved a constitutional amendment that will consolidate four sections of the constitution into a singular section, and remove the determinations in the constitution for amounts of such property tax exemptions. Proposition 130 allows exemptions for veterans with disabilities, others with total and permanent disabilities, widows and widowers. Each of these groups had previously been eligible for property tax exemption, but a 1989 Court of Appeals decision held that the veteran exemption was unconstitutional because it only applied to veterans who were AZ residents before entering the armed services. This new Prop 130 not only restores the exemptions, but makes it applicable regardless of when they became a resident, and it protects all the other classes mentioned from future challenge. Finally, it gives the legislature power to determine the amount of the exemptions, rather than being limited to what was codified in the constitution.

  • A referendum that proposed a $400 Million plan to boost teacher pay and support school safety in Miami-Dade faced an uphill climb in recent months, with headwinds created by higher gas and food prices worrying local consumers and voters. However, the measure passed with nearly 65% of voters approving. Included in this proposal was a 25-mill rate increase (from 75mills to 100mills). Another way, this is a $25 increase in property tax for every $100k in property value. Two of the newly elected (just won their races in August) school board members had actually opposed the rate increase. Thus, the margin of voter approval for this tax increase was somewhat surprising. Higher property taxes coming in South Florida.

  • Voters approved multiple property tax related measures, one of which arose from tornado damage last year in Heard, Coweta, and Fayette Counties. The new measure allows cities, counties and school districts to temporarily exempt disaster victims from paying property taxes—it was approved by 92% of the voters. Another measure expanded an existing agricultural exemption to merged farms shared by two or more family farms—which passed with 76% of the vote. The one with the least support, but passed with a still-solid 59%, was related to a property tax exemption for logging equipment used in the timber industry.

  • Illinois State Flag
    The existing political machine has a pretty solid grip on local voters, who locked in three incumbents with influence over real estate and property tax policy. Most notably, Cook County assessor Fritz Kaegi secured 82% of the vote against his Libertarian opponent. But still, 82% of the vote in a county with property taxes this high is surprising. Voters also approved of property tax increases related to the Cook County Forest Preserve, which maintains open spaces and supports funding for the Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanical Garden. What was already one of the highest taxed real estate bases in the nation, is going to be higher still.

  • Voters rejected 4 of 8 school referendums for property tax increases. Despite warnings of staffing and program cutbacks, voters were not convinced to support the proposed property tax increases for Brown County Schools, Delphi Community School in Carroll County, Medora Community School in Jackson County, and MSD of Wabash County. In one example, MSD had proposed an increase in property taxes that equated to $115M for a new high school and other renovations—which was rejected by 78% of voters. Brown County’s request was much smaller ($15M), but was still defeated by 53% if the vote.

  • Voters rejected a proposed amendment that would have given local authorities more flexibility or control over millage rate adjustments. Both chambers of the legislature had approved of Amendment 5, and it was supported by the Council for a Better Louisiana. It failed to pass.  The electorate also voted against other amendments—like allowing the state trust funds to increase the percentage of money that can be invested in the stock market, or a 10% assessment cap in Orleans Parish.

  • Ohio State Flag
    Voters in Paulding County passed every issue on the ballot, including all the tax measures. One in particular was in Grover Hill—where voters overwhelmingly approved of a new tax levy to increase police department funding. They first approved of a renewal of the existing levy, and then adopted a new 10-mill, 5-year levy that will increase by $350/year on the property tax on each $100,000 residence.

  • The largest bond issuance in Oklahoma City Schools history was on the ballot, at $955M in total. Proposition 1 asked for $936M toward new schools and repairs or enhancements. Proposition 2 was an additional $19M for new school buses and vehicles. The electorate voted in favor of both measures, 64% & 62%, respectively. The result is that voters approved of an increase in their Property Tax mill levy, from $18/$1,000 to $26/$1,000. A pretty significant, self-determined tax increase in this economic climate.

  • Voters in Tacoma, WA overwhelmingly voted in their own property tax increase (62%), to expand the budget of the Metro Parks. The ballot measure will increase property taxes in the parks district from 46 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, to 75 cents per $1,000. The increased levy is applicable starting January 1st and effective for six years.

  • West Virginia State Flag
    Amendment 2 was one of the hottest issues in the state this election, and it so happened that it was a Property Tax matter. Specifically, the amendment would have allowed the legislature to exempt from property tax both vehicles and businesses’ personal property (machinery & equipment). The republican Governor was very active on this particular issue, despite his party affiliation, and opposed his own party in the legislature, instead siding with the local government bodies who opposed it (namely, the West Virginia Association of Counties). In this case, the Governor’s opposition prevailed and the amendment failed at the ballot box.

The above listed states are just a small sampling of all the measures that appeared on ballots around the country last week. Property Taxes played a key role in many of the local elections and ballots, with varied sentiments demonstrated by voters.

However, one thing remains steadfast—that our clients continue to rely on DMA’s property tax experts to assist in navigating the complexities of ever-changing state laws and legislature.