Austinites, according to your city council, you’re still not paying enough in taxes.
At a recent city meeting, the council discussed preliminary numbers for next year’s budget, one of which included property taxes. As of now, they’re planning to take an additional 5.5 percent from Austin homeowners.
Add that tax increase to this startling fact: Compared to 10 years ago, the average Austin homeowner is now paying 80 percent more in taxes to the city.
“When I bought this house 22 years ago, my property taxes were [roughly] $2,800 a year, which was doable,” said Austin homeowner Brendan Sipple. “Now they are $9,000.”
Sipple, a single father in north Austin, is one of countless Austinites facing the threat of being kicked out of their own homes because of unbearable taxes.
“It does worry me. I think about it all the time,” he said. “I think about, ‘At what point do I say I can’t do it anymore?’”
Sadly, many Austin homeowners and iconic local businesses haven’t been able to hold on as long as Sipple and have already been forced to leave the city.
Council Member Greg Casar, a proud socialist, recognized in a recent interview that his low-income working-class district is a part of the city that’s in serious danger.
“We’re really aware that districts like ours could very well cease to exist as we know them if we stay on the path that we’re on,” he said.
But ironically, Casar has continually voted to take more money from the same working-class Austinites he claims to help.
The tax disaster unfolding in Austin isn’t solely the fault of city council, as a handful of government entities are to blame, but the council has refused to acknowledge their role in creating this catastrophe.
And even worse, the council wants to continue pillaging more of Austinites’ hard-earned paychecks—the same decision that caused the crisis in the first place.
Here’s the commonsense fact sorely missing from this whole situation: Taking more money from Austinites does not make it easier for them to provide for their families.
Thankfully, the Texas legislature is currently trying to pass a new state law that would give citizens more control over their taxes. The proposal, called Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2, is quite simple: If a local government such as Austin City Council wanted to increase your taxes more than 2.5 percent in a year, they would have to ask you for approval first.
Casar and the rest of the council are adamantly opposed to the idea. Casar called the bill “horrible” and even joked about legislators who support giving citizens more control over their own money.
“Recently, [legislators] said, ‘Well, the most local control is for voters to be able to approve the budget every single year,’ and it just goes to show how little it really is about the impact on people’s lives and how much it is about just being able to send out a glossy mailer saying you cut taxes,” Casar said.
According to Casar, asking citizens first for more of their money does not have an impact on their lives. Tell that to Sipple or the countless Austinites forced out of their homes.
Before city council takes even more, Austinites can still make their voices heard and fight for the right to have a say over their own hard-earned money. Citizens can contact their council member or sign the petition to state lawmakers below: