News Roundup: Exempted

Exemption fireworks, mayor goes eastward, and Austin for Hillary

In this week’s News Roundup: City Council splits on homestead exemption, but homeowners get another 2%; Adler uses the break to take a business trip to Asia; and early presidential polling numbers say Austin is delighted with the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Fireworks photomontage by Billy Hicks (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Exemption Disputation: In its last meeting before the July break – a special-called meeting on Wednesday, June 29 – City Council confirmed on third reading the expansion of the property tax homestead exemption from 6% (adopted last year) to 8%, by a 6-5 vote. Based on staff estimates, the $3.8 million cost will move the FY 2017 budget (still in preparation) from $2 million in the black to $1.8 million in the red. Council members were split East to West, with District 1 Council Member Ora Houston, D2 CM Delia Garza, D3 CM Sabino Renteria, D4 CM Greg Casar, and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo all voting nay, and voting aye were Mayor Steve Adler, D5 CM Ann Kitchen, D6 CM Don Zimmerman, D7 CM Leslie Pool, D8 CM Ellen Troxclair, and D10 CM Sheri Gallo. Garza told her colleagues, “That means cutting services. That means cutting something somewhere. I just hope we all understand the position we're putting ourselves in.” Mayor Adler commented, “We have an affordability issue in this city that impacts lots of people. And it's important for everyone in this community that is dealing with affordability to know this council hears them. And I think that that is something that this vote enables us to be able to do.”

Asian Adventure: Council budget work sessions resume July 27 (the next regularly scheduled meeting is August 4), and council members fill the dais break with various activities, including campaigns for five incumbents seeking reelection in November: Garza, Casar, Zimmerman, Pool, and Gallo. Mayor Adler is leading a delegation of local business representatives to Asian countries, hoping to open new markets to Austin businesses. According to a release from the mayor’s office, “The mayoral delegation will travel July 3-19 to South Korea, China, Singapore, and Taiwan. Itinerary includes many business-to-business meetings, science and innovation park partner visits, and a celebration of Austin’s 30th Anniversary with Sister City Taichung, Taiwan.” You can follow the delegation on Twitter: @ATXeconvitality, #ATXoutBound.

Austin ❤️ Hillary: Mark Littlefield of Southwest Voter Research posted some early polling numbers on his Facebook page July 2, and while Hillary Clinton has reason to worry about the state of Texas, Austin apparently thinks she’s just peachy. According to Littlefield, Clinton is winning 93% of local Democrats (Donald Trump has the support of 77% of Republicans). Moreover, Clinton is leading in all 10 City Council districts. Clinton is plus-66 in District 3, and plus-56 in D9 – her smallest margin, in CM Don Zimmerman’s D6, is 8 percentage points.

The full list:

D1 (CM Houston): +53

D2 (CM Garza) +27

D3 (CM Renteria) +66

D4 (CM Casar) +38

D5 (CM Kitchen) +18

D6 (CM Zimmerman) +8

D7 (CM Pool) +22

D8 (CM Troxclair) +14

D9 (MPT Tovo) +56

D10 (CM Gallo) +25

Littlefield reports that the poll numbers are based on a survey of 1,100 people who are likely voters in November 2016. The margin of error for the entire city is 2.9%, but would vary for the individual districts.

For more on City Council and other local stories, follow the Daily News and this week’s print edition.

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City Council 2016, Election November 2016

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