Are you one of at least 132,000 Austinites who lost their jobs over the past few months because of government shutdowns? City hall now wants to help—by taking a pile of your cash.
This week, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a funding plan for their new, historically expensive, $10 billion rail and bus transit plan called Project Connect. To build things such as a few light rail lines in the central city, an underground tunnel across several blocks of downtown, new bus routes, and electric buses, the council wants to raise the tax rate a whopping 8.75 cents—meaning the median homeowner in Austin will pay roughly $450 more per year to the city.
And that’s only to fund the initial phase.
The city council decided to “gradually” take the truckload of money from citizens, meaning that the initial 8.75 cent tax rate increase would only cover the first $3.85 billion of the transit plan. City officials are currently trying to get federal taxpayers to cover part of the total cost, but they’ll likely come back to local citizens to take even more money to finish the project.
By approving their phased funding plan, the council is moving closer to officially putting the massive tax rate increase on the November 3 ballot. If voters accept, not only would the city council be taking hundreds more from average homeowners beginning next year, but they’ll be raising prices yet again for everyone across town—apartment rents will likely soar higher than expected, as well as grocery bills, restaurant prices, and more.
On top of the massive potential taxes for the transit plan, the council is already expected to raise taxes 3.5 percent for their normal upcoming budget—hitting citizens with a double whammy of higher bills in a time where countless are just trying to afford food and rent.
Furthermore, compared to just 12 years ago, the council is now taking 100 percent more from the median homeowner. In 2008, the median city tax bill was roughly $700; now it’s over $1,400—and that’s not including the hundreds more the council now wants to take.
Citizens have been reacting to the council’s recent tax hike proposal, including replying to a recent tweet by Mayor Steve Adler, where he expressed how “excited” he was for the new plan.
“You are excited every time you increase taxes,” one citizen wrote. “Why don’t you tell tax payers the total amount of their tax bill you are increasing with this proposal? It is $400+ increase on the average taxpayer. That is of course on top of the [3.5 percent] tax increase. In 10 years your taxes double.”
“@MayorAdler no more property tax increases – unbelievable that you support a 3.5% increase for 2020-2021 given the dramatic impact #covid19 has had on unemployment & small businesses failures,” another said. “Now another increase for [the transit plan]?”
“Mayor – you’re tone-deaf to the people of Austin who have been asking for tax RELIEF for years!” another replied.
Austinites concerned about the coming potential tax increase can contact Mayor Adler or the city council.