Lesser Property Taxes for Austin Residents as City Council Votes for Increased Homestead Exemption
The Austin City Council has finally voted in favor of increasing the homestead exemption from 6% to 8% this afternoon. The 2% increase in exemption means that owners of homes valued at $250,000 will save approximately $23 annually. The final decision came at the third reading set this Wednesday afternoon after council members took a month-long summer break.
In a statement released by Mayor Steve Adler, he insists that the city council believes that, “we need to do all we can to make Austin more affordable, and extending the homestead exemption to save the homeowners money is an important step. Not every tool will help everyone, so we also need to find and implementing other tools, as this Council has done, to help renters and others.”
The higher homestead exemption is estimated to lower the city's general fund by $3.8 million.
Against the Decision
A few council members were against the decision, citing that the exemption would not really benefit low-income families. Council member Pio Renterria says that "increasing our current homestead tax exemption beyond six percent could have a significant impact on city services that are critical to Austin families.” Renteria believes that the $3.8 million lost because of the exemption will compromise city services that serve a better purpose for families truly in need, in comparison to residents who will enjoy larger "discounts" because they own more expensive homes.
The AISD, projects for low-income communities, and other minorities are believed to suffer from the diminished city revenue that is usually spent on their respective projects.