Austin may file challenge of commercial property appraisals

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The city of Austin is currently deciding to file a challenge regarding commercial property appraisals.

Austin City Council will decide May 28 in time to meet the June 1 filing deadline. City staff told council members during a May 19 work session that commercial properties in Austin had been appraised for 41 percent below value.

Should the challenge be filed and the commercial properties appraisals increase by 41 percent as predicted by city staff, council members have indicated a desire to use that extra revenue to provide tax breaks for homeowners and renters.

Such a challenge could cause issues during Austin's ongoing 2015-16 budget process and could also affect surrounding communities. Because the appraisal review process would not be complete by the time budget talks begin, the budget would operate on estimated revenue and a property tax rate could not be set, said Ed Van Eenoo, Austin's deputy chief financial officer.

Council members from Round Rock and Cedar Park asked Austin City Council on May 26 to not file the challenge because it would also affect both cities' ability to set a property tax rate during budget talks.

"[Filing a challenge petition] will disrupt other independent governing bodies' ability to set tax rates and collect tax revenues necessary to provide essential city services," Round Rock Mayor Pro Tem George White said in a letter to the city of Austin. "Austin's filing of a challenge petition will have a negative impact on the city of Round Rock and as many as 100 other local political subdivisions."

Payments on appraisals are due Jan. 31; however, if Austin is successful in its challenge the due date will be pushed to March 1, Eenoo said.

Other May 28 Austin City Council agenda highlights:

  • Consider amending the electric rate schedule for hospital systems.

  • Consider approving an additional $14 million for a contract to provide maintenance and a spare part to two energy stations.

  • Consider the appointment of a city auditor.

  • Consider rezoning 908 E. 15th St., 807 E. 16th St. and 1506 Waller St. from single and multifamily use to mixed-land use.

  • Council will hold its Austin Energy Committee meeting at 9 a.m. May 28 before the regularly scheduled council meeting starts at 11 a.m.


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