Williamson County Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of increasing the general homestead property tax exemption as well as the exemptions for homeowners age 65-plus and homeowners with a disability during its May 17 meeting.

The motion, which passed with a vote of 4-0, increases the existing tax exemption for residents age 65 and older as well as residents with a disability to $125,000. The general homestead property exemption was increased to 5% of assessed value or a minimum of $5,000. The increased exemptions will be in effect for the tax year beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey was not present for the vote.

This action comes after Williamson County voted last year to increase exemptions for residents age 65 and older to $90,000 and exemptions for residents with a disability to $75,000. In 2021, the court established the general homestead property tax exemption at 1.5% or $5,000, whichever was greater.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long, who spearheaded the effort to increase the exemptions, said this is the county's opportunity to help reduce residents' property tax burdens. Additionally, Long said she also expects the county to lower its tax rate during the budget cycle later this year.

These exemptions only apply to taxes assessed by the county. Residents in Williamson County also pay taxes to other entities, including school districts, cities, municipal utility districts and emergency services districts.

Many of the commissioners spoke about the increases in property values residents received on their appraisal notice.

According to preliminary values from the Williamson Central Appraisal District, the county saw a 35.7%, or $30.12 billion, increase in taxable value in 2022 compared to 2021. The market value of residential properties rose from $65.74 billion in 2021 to $103.23 billion in 2022, and median home values across the county rose 46.34% from $323,450 in 2021 to $473,328 in 2022, according to WCAD data.

WCAD Chief Appraiser Alvin Lankford had previously prepared residents to see record increases in their property values.

"We're seeing unprecedented tax bills because we are living in one of the most economically prosperous regions of the world," County Judge Bill Gravell said.

During the May 7 election, voters unanimously approved two statewide propositions that aim to provide additional property tax relief to homesteaded residents. Gravell also encouraged other entities with the ability to offer homestead exemptions to do so.

"This court will lead in increasing the homestead exemption and in cutting the tax rate," he said.

While Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook voted in favor of the increased exemptions, she said it may be tough for the county to continue to provide high-quality services to residents due to rising costs and the exemption effects on county property tax revenue.