Austin City Council votes in favor of increasing Homestead Exemption

Good news for some Austin property owners, your property taxes will be going down.

The Austin City Council voted in favor a 2% increase for the Homestead Exemption which adds to the already 6%, bringing it up to 8%.

The Homestead Exemption was introduced by Council Member Ellen Troxclair last year.  “I think it's so important in this affordability crisis that we find ourselves in to make sure that we are doing all that we can to lower the property tax burden and the overall cost of living in Austin,” she said.

The projected total savings to homeowners who use the discount on their primary residence is 3.8 million dollars.

Council was very divided on who this ordinance really affects. Delia Garza represents District 2. “To frame this as we are helping struggling families, it's not helping struggling families, it's helping the wealthiest in our community,” she said. “This idea that people who have more expensive homes don't deserve to get a Homestead Exemption, that's not a Texas value, it's not a constitutional value,” said Don Zimmerman, who represents District 6.

Some residents at the meeting spoke in support of the ordinance. John Spence is an Austin Resident. “I think this is going to help a lot families in the mod(erate), middle, and low income range because there are a lot more of those families than there are on the high income range,” he said. Deborah White was representing Austin Interfaith “Austin Interfaith calls on the mayor and council to support a Homestead Exemption change only if does not negatively impact the most vulnerable of our residents,” she said.

Council Member Troxclair said council made the specific promise last year that the Homestead Exemption would reach 20% within four years. But that may battle some close calls within council in the years to come, based on Wednesdays five to six vote.

With this 2% increase it will save the owner of a $250,000 home about an extra $23 a year. This will go into effect at the beginning of 2017.