Austin city budget could include tax breaks for homeowners

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Homestead exemptions are something Austin Mayor Steve Adler talked about a lot when he ran for mayor. Those exemptions now look closer to becoming a reality for Austin homeowners.

“We’re having an affordability crisis in this city that we need to address,” said Adler.

Adler wants the tax break for Austinites who own and live in their home. The plan was a top discussion at Wednesday’s city council’s budget meeting.

“I think there is a way to adjust the tax rate in this city so that that burden gets readjusted and the property taxes that homeowners pay would go down,” said Adler. “That balance would be made up with an ever-so-slight, but increased, tax on commercial and industrial properties.”

Most homeowners in Austin can identify with rising property taxes.

“Taxes keep going up, but employment, as far as salary, it stays the same,” said Francisco Rosales.

He and his wife Rosie and their two children live in East Austin in a home they have owned for about 20 years. Francisco and Rosi also grew up in the neighborhood.

“It’s dramatic the changes that we’ve seen,” said Rosie Rosales.

With rising costs, the Rosales’ do not take their home for granted.

“[The property tax] keeps increasing more and more, so who knows where we’re going to be ending up,” said Francisco Rosales.

The Austin City Council must make a decision on the homestead exemption by the end of June. City leaders are also looking at ways to cut spending as they get into budget discussions. The city manager’s office instructed city departments to look at their budgets and determine how and where they could decrease spending by 5 percent. Department heads have to report to the city manager by next week on where they could cut back.

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