Earlier this month, the Austin City Council adopted a $4.1 billion dollar budget, with over $1 billion of that being general operating funds for core services like public safety, parks, libraries, health and human services, and housing. Here are some facts you should know about the City’s budget and how it will impact REALTORS® and homeowners.
- Though the overall City tax rate was reduced, homeowners will still see an increase in the dollar amount of their tax bill. Based on projections, the average homeowner in Austin is likely to see an increase in about $67/year in property taxes next year. That’s an additional $5.60/month — the cost of one legendary Don Juan Grande taco from Juan in a Million. Keep in mind when you receive your tax bill, however, the City is not entirely to blame: the largest property tax driver is local school taxes – a significant portion of which end up leaving local districts for state coffers.
- Homeowners will get a break through an increased homestead exemption. In June, the Austin City Council made a modest increase to the homestead exemption, raising it to 10%, from the previous 8% level. The maximum exemption level allowed under state law is 20%, and ABoR, through TREPAC, has been a strong advocate for raising it as high as possible without cutting into essential services.
- Council increased funds to address Austin’s affordable housing crisis. The adopted budget includes $2.4 million of new funding for homelessness programs, building on $26.3 million in ongoing expenditures. It also includes full funding for the Housing Trust Fund through a total transfer of $5.3 million, a 40% increase over previous year funding.
- The residential permitting review process is getting a little easier. After years of frustration, resources will be increased for development and permitting review resulting in lots more staff (52 new positions), new services, and decreased wait times. The new staff includes 2 ombudsmen dedicated to assisting homeowners with permitting. Unfortunately, that means fees will be going up, too. The fee increases are sharpest for commercial development, but residential development will see some substantial increases as well.
- Public safety gets a boost. The approved budget allocates $5.7 million to hire an additional 33 police officers, 16 new firefighters, and new equipment for both departments. The additional positions will help mitigate a growing gap between public safety personnel and population growth. Additional funds were committed to advance new fire stations at Moore’s Crossing and Travis Country, both in the pipeline to address inadequate response times in parts of southwest and southeast Austin.