Austin passes record $4.1 billion budget, median homeowner sees $66.87 property tax increase

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Austin will operate the 2018-2019 fiscal year with its largest budget to date after City Council Tuesday approved the record $4.1 billion operating budget.

The owner of a median-valued home at $332,366 will pay roughly $1,317 in city property taxes, a $66.87 increase over last year. The increase is nearly half of the $117 increase in city taxes taxpayers experienced through the previous budget. Primary residence homeowners will benefit from a 10 percent homestead exemption—up from last year’s 8 percent exemption—resulting in a median savings of roughly $29.33.

Including property taxes and Austin Energy, Austin Water, resource recovery, clean community, transportation user and drainage utility rates, the median homeowner will pay $4,021.27 to the city next year—a $77.31 increase over last year.

The council approved the budget 10-1, with District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair the lone objector. The budget approval took only one day of dais discussion, a sharp contrast to council’s typical three-day budget negotiation endurance test in previous years.

City Manager Spencer Cronk said his one-on-one discussions with council members in the weeks leading up to adoption helped set the budget’s parameters and policy framework, streamlining what is typically a marathon process for City Council. Kay Guedea, council liaison for the city manager’s office, said in her 43 years with the city, she can remember only one other budget that passed after just one day of deliberations.

During Tuesday’s discussion, City Council increased the property tax revenue 5.45 percent from last year, up from the city manager-recommended 4.9 percent increase. The extra roughly $2 million in taxes added money to programs related to homelessness, parent support, and victim services.

The 5.45 percent property tax revenue increase fell well short of the state-mandated revenue increase cap of 8 percent—a limit Austin City Council has typically pushed toward. The relatively low increase comes as state lawmakers consider restricting municipalities from increasing property tax revenue by more than 5 percent without voter approval.

Highlights of the budget include funding for 33 new police officers, 12 of which were approved but unfunded in the fiscal year 2017-18 budget. An additional $2 million was put toward the city’s homelessness response and spending for the city’s housing department increased by nearly $7 million.

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  1. Ironic that they increased property taxes AND money for homelessness. The rapid increase we have in property taxes from all entities driven by the insane rocketing property values are pushing more and more out of their homes.

    • Not everybody can live in Beverly Hills my friend. Life is dynamic, everything changes all the time. You should be happy you live in a prosperous city. Either growth or decline is the norm, I prefer for growth and prosperity .

  2. We should all be horrified by this. The city has received a windfall in revenue due to the recent and large increase in property values. The City should be lowering the tax % rate in response to the increase in appraisal values. It is very irresponsible for them to allow the city $ budget to grow with increased home values but to also raise the tax % rate creating a double hit for homeowners is outrageous!

    I am happy that my home value has increased. You should also be happy (if you own a home). This is not the reason for your high tax rate.

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Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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