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Austin City Council Approves Nearly $1 Million Tax Levy Hike

September 18, 2018 09:19 AM

(ABC 6 News) -- After months of discussion, the Austin City Council Monday night approved a preliminary $932,000 increase to the city's 2019 tax levy, marking a fourth consecutive year of double-digit increases.

In early August, the increase sat at $1,039,000, but after a $75,000 reduction in funding for the community recreation center and moving some budget items to the current fiscal year, the council brought the increase under the $1 million mark. Despite that, the 15.69 percent increase isn't sitting well with everyone.

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"Disabled veterans that are retired, people that are low income, they cannot afford these type of raises," Austin resident Leonard Germer told the council.

Sandy Forstner, the executive director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, called the increase, which comes after 9.6 percent increases the past two years and a more than 13 percent increase in 2016, "unfortunate."

"We worked very hard the past couple of sessions to get the state property tax levy reduced, and now on the heels of that then we see a large spike in the local levy," he said.

Driving the increase are several items relating to city staff wages, including $500,000 to implement a compensation and class study for employees and another $350,000 to cover cost-of-living increases.

Council member David Hagen, the lone no vote, said the burden was too great for taxpayers to handle all at once.

"I was thinking that maybe they could have dragged that over a three-year period rather than to have the taxpayer take it all in one year," he said.

If the preliminary rate is approved, a homeowner with a home valued at $100,000 would see around a $60 increase in city taxes, while a homeowner with a $125,000 home would pay just over $80 more.

While the numbers have not been finalized, after September 30 the city can only lower the tax levy.

A Truth in Taxation hearing is set for December 4 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

KAAL-TV

Copyright 2018 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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