West Point citizens speak out against Harris County taxes
Published 7:54 am Friday, July 29, 2022
Several West Point citizens have raised concern about the Harris County millage rate that affects a small portion of the city south of 3rd East Street. Currently, the Harris County millage rate for West Point is 5.628, which is 60% of the rate that the rest of the county pays.
Blake Alford, longtime resident of West Point, noted his frustration with the rate, stating that he pays more taxes to Harris County than he does to West Point, yet he has not seen any Harris County services in the area.
“I have lived in West Point for over 20 years and in my time here I have never seen any services from Harris County; not law enforcement, emergency services, public works, anything,” Alford said. “Yet, I have to pay them more [taxes] than I pay the city of West Point, which does provide all of those services.”
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Alford raised his concerns to the Harris County commission on June 3 and was directed to the county clerk. After several emails back and forth, Alford filed for an open records request for any services that the county provided to West Point citizens including emergency calls responded to within city limits, the number of work orders performed within city limits, the number of West Point citizens enrolled in the Harris County School System as well as how many inmates have been booked in the Harris County jail who had a West Point address. While the Harris County School board did respond, saying that 209 of the 5,543, or 3.78% of students in the school district had a West Point address, no other information was given.
Alford noted that under the Freedom of Information Act, any records pertaining to public services in West Point should have been given to him when he filed the request.
“Since no documents were given to me, it is fair to conclude that Harris County did not provide any of these services,” Alford said. “With the exception of the court services, all of the services that Harris County claims to provide are already being provided by the city of West Point.”
Determined to fight for a change, Alford drafted a public petition for West Point citizens to sign. The petition demands that West Point citizens only be required to pay 40% of the Harris millage rate rather than the current 60%. Currently, Alford’s petition has almost 250 signatures.
Alford took the petition to the Harris County Commission meeting on July 19, where he expressed his concern in a written speech. Unfortunately for him, he was not able to finish his speech as he went over the 5 minutes of allotted time for a public hearing. Alford noted that, while he was not permitted to finish speaking at his first visit to the Harris County Commission meeting, he would be returning to speak again.
“It is important that the citizens of West Point who are being affected by this have their voices heard,” he said. “If anyone would like to sign the petition, they can contact me on Facebook.”
As of time of publication, the Harris County Clerk’s Office nor District 2 Commissioner Robert Grant have not responded to comment on the situation. The next public hearings for Harris County are set to discuss the millage rate and how it pertains to county residents will be on Aug 2 at 6:30 p.m. and Aug 16 at 6:30 p.m.