Early voting wrapped up Tuesday

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Jim Wells County Correspondent

Passing with near unanimous votes in the Texas House and Senate, it is now up to the voters to decide whether Texas' elderly and disabled residents will see a reduction in their school property taxes this year from a proposed constitutional amendment currently on the county ballot.

With the focus this year on the city and school board races, many voters in the county may not be aware that there is a county election taking place, officials said.

The outcome of the vote has an effect on a significant portion of the Texas population if approved.

Elsie Gessling said the proposed ballot amendment will have her approval.

Over the age of 65, Gessling said high taxes are not really a concern she has, but she does feel it is an important issue for the disabled and elderly in Texas.

"I'm going to take some time to read more about the proposed amendment, but I probably will vote for it. I would be in favor of a reduction in school property taxes," Gessling said.

As the only amendment on the ballot this year, the ballot item if approved would call for a reduction of up to one-third of the current school property tax for those elderly or disabled homeowners whose homesteads are under a tax freeze because of age or disability.

Texas legislators previously approved a one-third reduction in school property taxes for Texans, called House Bill 2, beginning in 2006.

Homeowners 65 years or older, and the disabled are currently able to qualify for a school property tax freeze on their homestead residence.

Because of an oversight in the legislature, that particular group was not included in the property tax reductions.

The current ballot amendment, if approved, would include the elderly and disabled in those school property tax reductions. Early voting runs through May 8 at the JWC Courthouse, Premont City Hall and Orange Grove City Hall.

Local resident Cecil Carrillo, 80, said she was in favor of any reduction in school property taxes.

"Yes, I think I'll vote for the amendment. Property takes are definitely a concern of mine, and I think any reduction we could get would be important," Carrillo said.