In a mildly surprising move, Austin City Council voted to provide some much needed property tax relief to Austin homeowners; voting on a narrow 6-5 margin to increase the homestead exemption. While the vote is a (small) step in the right direction, homeowners are still going to see an increase in their overall tax burden.
With appraisals and expenditures skyrocketing, the homestead exemption increase from 6 percent to 8 percent should help offset the rising property taxes by about $23 dollars a year. Unfortunately, the move will not be enough to offset rising tax burdens considering looming bond proposals and explosive budgetary growth in Austin ISD — not to mention the massive daily influx of liberal-state defectors contributing to the skyrocketing property value appraisals driving up homeowners’ tax burdens.
Councilmembers Delia Garza, Ora Houston, Sabino “Pio” Renteria, Greg Casar, and Kathie Tovo voted against the measure, claiming the $3.8 million in lost revenue to the city could be put to better use expanding government services — such as affordable housing programs.
Of course, such logic represents a flawed line of thinking: the demand for affordable housing programs is borne from high property tax burdens that low-income families cannot afford — which of course are driven upward by government spending, such as spending on housing subsidies.
But even this modest relief only squeaked by. Considering the current attitudes on council and the capitol city’s historical spending habits (as well as those likely in the future), real property tax relief exists as little more than lofty rhetoric.