After a series of contentious, lengthy meetings on the subject, the Austin City Council approved a raise in property owners’ homestead exemptions at a specially called meeting, according to a Wednesday Austin-American Statesman story.
The increase, from 6% to 8%, was approved at a specially called meeting Wednesday. According to the Statesman, the measure will save the typical Austin homeowner approximately $23 a year and decrease city revenue by $3.8 million.
Arguments over the matter center on the increasing need for the city to create, and at least partially fund, housing and transportation solutions for the growing, gridlocked area and at the same time providing some relief to property owners who complain that they overtaxed.
Because Texas has no income tax and relies so heavily on sales and property taxes for its revenue, the issue is often cast as one that offers relief to the relatively wealthy and results in fewer services for those who are in need.
According to the Statesman, the council voted 6-5 in favor of the proposal and fell more or less along district lines, with members representing primarily renters tending to vote against it while those who have more homeowners in their districts being in favor of the decrease.
Mayor Steve Adler, who championed tax relief during his campaign, told the Statesman last week that the issue was related to tackling major civic problems. The mayor is currently touting a $720 million transportation bond, which would increase property taxes by about $60 a year for the typical taxpayer. He told the paper last week that raising the homestead exemption was a way to offset an increase in taxes for badly needed projects.