Under the proposed exemption, residents age 65 and older with a homestead in the city will have $60,000 removed from their homestead’s total taxable value to reflect in a lower city tax bill. The exemptions will go into effect for fiscal year 2020-21’s budget and tax rate.
Dozens of residents were present at council’s March 5 meeting, wearing red to represent their affiliation with the Senior Watch of Hutto organization. Ten residents spoke before council, strongly advocating for the implementation of both a senior homestead exemption and a tax ceiling.
Ida Weaver, a Hutto resident over age 65, asked for council to “heed the call” of senior residents who are still grappling with the effects of the FY 2019-20 tax rate increase.
“Hutto seniors are swimming upstream, trying to keep our heads up water with the tax rate wrapped around our ankles,” Weaver said.
According to a presentation delivered by Michel Sorrell, chief financial officer of the city, each $10,000 in homestead tax exemptions results in an estimated $8.85 million loss in taxable value and a city revenue impact of nearly $56,000. When applied to the $60,000 exemption, that would result in an estimated $53.1 million loss in taxable value and a city revenue impact of roughly $335,000.
Council initially floated the idea of a $56,000 senior tax exemption following reports provided by Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector Larry Gaddes to Council Member Mike Snyder that this would roughly equate to seniors’ property tax bills prior to FY 2019-20’s tax rate hike.
The ordinance approved on first reading, per its language, applied only to residents age 65 and older and will come back to council’s next meeting for its second and final reading. Two separate ordinances, specifically for a disabled persons tax exemption and a tax ceiling, will come before council for first ordinance readings at its next meeting.
“It really breaks my heart to know how hard it’s been on you guys,” Council Member Patti Martinez said following council’s vote. “I hope that this more than makes up for what’s happened in the past.”