Preservation Tax Breaks Unfair

RECEIVED Tue., March 2, 2010

Dear Editor:
    I read your lead story “What's Historic?” [News, Feb. 26] with some interest. Having been involved with historic preservation issues in other cities, I have often wondered how well known the tax abatement program was with respect to Austin's "landmark" buildings. I find it a little unfair for people who can afford these properties, many of which are quite valuable, to manage to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes simply due to what could be called a tax loophole. If the property tax situation in Texas was equitable or fair, then this would not be so questionable. Sadly, without the proper funding for education from the state Legislature, the onerous burden of paying for public education falls on homeowners. If my house were even remotely eligible for landmark designation, I would pursue it with a vengeance, if only to make my taxes tolerable.
    One other point: I was wondering if the house in the upper left of your cover was eligible for the abatement. If so, then most of Tarrytown and Hyde Park and Pemberton and Clarksville and Travis Heights would be also. Think of how much revenue that would cost the city.
Sincerely,
John Ferguson
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