By Bill Oakey – March 21, 2014
Yesterday, the Austin City Council voted 5-2 to give seniors and disabled homeowners a long-overdue increase in the Over-65 Homestead Exemption. They increased the exemption from $51,000 to $70,000. So, now the City of Austin and Travis County wil both offer the same $70,000 exemption.
Now for the question that a lot of people are asking. How much money will this save on your tax bill? The answer is really simple. The increased savings is $95.51 per year, under the current tax rate. And it doesn’t matter what your home appraisal is. The entire $70,000 exemption reduces your taxes by $351.89. To do the calculation, just take $70,000, divided by 100, which is $700. Then multiply $700 times the current tax rate of .5027 and you get $351.89.
We have five City Council Members to thank for this victory. They are the two co-sponsors, Laura Morrison and Mike Martinez, along with Kathie Tovo, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, and Chris Riley. Change does not come easy at City Hall. And if I learned anything from this experience, it is this. There is no form of trench warfare more brutal than the fights over funding issues! People will put their hearts and souls on the line to compete for projects during the budget cycle and throughout the year.
A crucial final vote at a City Council meeting can be like a football game. You may think you know the odds going in, but you really don’t. In this case, it is safe to say that it went right down to the wire. I would especially like to thank Council Member Kathie Tovo, and her Policy Aide, Shannon Halley. Their dedication, patience, and responsiveness to emails and phone calls really helped make the difference!
For those who are wondering, the Over-65 and Disabled Homestead Exemption had not been adjusted since 1986, when Ronald Reagan was President. We have good reason to celebrate!