Taxpayers in Dayton ISD will see a change when tax statements come out next year after school officials agreed to have that process handled by Liberty County.
Tax Assessor-Collector Ricky Brown appeared before commissioners on Tuesday asking for their approval on this change, which would bring the total number of government entities the county serves to 26.
“Ever since I’ve been in the tax office, I’ve always kind of had this eye on Dayton,” Brown continued, “again, I’m not pursuing them, but the invitation is there if they want us to take them over.”
Brown said that only three county districts collected their own taxes, Dayton, Devers, and Tarkington ISDs, and this was not the first time he worked to include Dayton.
“We made a run at this in 2017 because the existing tax assessor for the school district was retiring, so I kind of made a run for it at that time, and we pursued it, we got commissioners court approval even to hire one of their displaced people, but the school district chose not to consider it,” said Brown.
According to Brown, the opportunity was again possible with the retirement of DISDs current tax assessor later this year.
Dayton is one of the longest holdouts from a system where each government entity handled its own assessments and collections. That practice has changed over the years, with the county taking on those services for most agencies.
“They had done this from the beginning. Just like every city, every entity used to have their own tax office. I think some of our contracts go back to the early eighties when we took on the collection for some schools and cities,” Brown told commissioners.
Brown said there were some questions from the district about the level of collections they take in if the county were to take over, along with other concerns.
“It was a tough challenge to convince them that we can take on this deal,” said Brown.
That process saw a comparison of collection rates by the school versus those of the county and looked at recent contractual agreements with some utility districts that the county took on recently.
Brown said those negotiations included making some assurances to the district about local controls that are laid out in the state tax code.
“I’m pleased to report that last Tuesday at the school board meeting, even though it wasn’t unanimous, we got a 5-2 approval from the school board to contract with Liberty County,” said Brown.
With that approval, it was up to commissioners to approve that contract and how this would lessen the burden on the school system while making it easier for the 27,000 tax accounts in DISD.
“They will be getting one bill, not two, and I think it will be less confusing to the Dayton taxpayers. It will be an efficiency that the Dayton schools will not have the expense of two employees, and we charge them our contract rate,” said Brown.
Brown explained that it would come with no liability to the county and would not include any more workload because the county was already handling the same taxpayers.
“I don’t see any downside to it, it’s good for the taxpayers, definitely Dayton ISD, and I don’t think it’s causing any tax burden to the taxpayers of the county,” said Brown before commissioners approved the new arrangement.