County Commissioners watching revenue bills
Two bills under consideration in the 2019 session of the Oklahoma Legislature are drawing attention because of the potential to replace lost revenue in Comanche County’s budget.
The bills by Sen. John Michael Montgomery and Rep. Trey Caldwell, both Lawton-area Republicans, seek to return revenue lost because of tax exemptions granted to honorably discharged veterans who are 100 percent disabled. Under the state law, qualified veterans receive a waiver on the full fair market value of their homesteads, as long as they own and occupy the structures. But, while the State of Oklahoma provided for the tax exemption beginning in the 2006 year, it has not provided a mechanism for counties to recover that lost revenue.
The result: county budgets are losing revenue, as are school districts (which receive the bulk of ad valorem revenues). That loss is higher in counties with higher veteran populations, such as Comanche County, where 477 new veterans gained the exemption in 2018, county officials say. That’s why the county commissioners and others are watching Montgomery’s Senate Bill 657 and Caldwell’s House Bill 2297, which would provide a way for the state to allocate those funds.