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Proposed City Budget – Surprise, Surprise – Would Raise Property Taxes. But Not As Much As Last Year

Gabriel C. Pérez

Under a $4.1 billion budget proposed today by City Manager Spencer Cronk, Austin homeowners would pay roughly $78 more a year in property taxes and fees to the city.

Owners of median-valued homes saw an annual increase of nearly $152 in their property taxes and fees last year. The marginal increase proposed this year is thanks in part to a higher homestead exemption passed in June: Homeowners can now exempt 10 percent, up from 8, of their home values from taxes.

The city manager has also opted not to raise the tax rate by the maximum amount allowed by law, as the city has done every year since 2010.

“When I took this job, one of the commitments I made was to make the budget process more focused, streamlined and consistent with your priorities as a Council and reflective of the priorities of our community,” Cronk said in a speech regarding the budget this afternoon. “These conversations need to be taking place year-round – not only in the month before we adopt a budget.”

Credit City of Austin Budget Office

Cronk says he hopes to use this additional revenue to pay for new initiatives and hire new employees. He is proposing raising the minimum wage for city employees, including part-time and seasonal workers, to $15 an hour. He also wants to put $3.1 million in new funding toward homelessness programs, including cleaning up homeless camps and adding five employees to an outreach team.

Cronk says he wants to hire 33 new police officers and 16 more firefighters. (The city is saving some money because it doesn't currently have contracts with the police and EMS departments and certain wage benefits have been frozen.)

This is Cronk’s first budget as Austin’s city manager.

City Council members will spend the next two months deliberating Cronk's proposal. They must approve a new budget before the fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

Correction: An earlier of this version stated just the expected property tax jump homeowners would experience. The post has been updated to include the total increase including fees.

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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