Council: Taxes Are Challenging

Council prepares to challenge TCAD

Looks like City Council is indeed preparing to challenge the Travis Central Apprais­al District on the accuracy of its commercial property appraisals. That's the thrust of Item 22 on today's agenda (May 21), partly the fruit of a city-commissioned report just issued by consultants the Aegis Group and UT-Aus­tin real estate professor George W. Gau. According to the report – commissioned by the previous Council as a preliminary step toward a challenge – "commercial properties have been substantially undervalued by TCAD for property tax purposes. For the period of 2012-14, the average undervaluation was 47%." The report says the primary reason for undervaluation appears to be the lack of sales price information (legally obscured under Texas law), and suggests that if the undervaluations were corrected, "there would be potential savings for both Austin renters and homeowners through lower property taxes."

How long such a challenge would take, its chances of success – and the eventual effect on tax rates – remains to be seen. Item 22 could be called bipartisan: sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo (District 9), co-sponsored by D5's Ann Kitchen, D6's Don Zimmerman, and D8's Ellen Troxclair. (The morning briefing will also address the subject of a challenge; the vote may not come until next week.) In the meantime, Item 2 proposes to increase the current homestead property tax exemption (.01%, or effectively a flat $5,000) to a not-yet-specified percentage – presumably to be talked through at today's session, so tax matters may occupy Council for quite a while.

Other money matters include a couple of proposals by D4 CM Greg Casar. Item 23 (co-sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler, D1's Ora Houston, and D7's Leslie Pool) would direct the city manager to draft a budget that includes raising the current $11.39 minimum wage for city employees (to a rate not specified but tied to inflation). Item 25 is a "ban the box" proposal (referring to the ­criminal history questions on job applications) – it would convene a working group to develop "fair chance" hiring practices in Austin for ex-inmates.

There's plenty more on today's to-do list:

Items 31-34: Pursuing work in progress on taxicab franchise extensions, including perhaps a fourth (co-op) franchise;

Item 42: The Decker Lake golf course proposal returns after several committee reviews (public hearing closed), with Council members and the mayor sending mixed signals on how they're leaning;

Item 48: Hearing on an appeal of the Planning Commission decision to allow a variance for construction in the setback of the Waterfront Overlay in the Red Bluff district; in work session, Mayor Adler suggested a resolution that would involve realigning a city street above the tract, presumably clearing the setback;

Items 49-53: Public hearings include continued discussions of utility rate revisions for major commercial customers, which has been a fairly volatile subject (perhaps less so this round, with the Lege nearing sine die).

There's always more where those came from: The musical honoree is Jackie Venson, it's both EMS and Public Works Week, Safe Boating Week and Motorcycle Safety Month (insert gratuitous Waco joke here), and among the Distinguished Service awardees is the hardest-working woman in voluntary development review: Zoning and Platting Commissioner for Life, Betty Baker.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More City Council 2015
Council Proposes ABA Coverage
Council Proposes ABA Coverage
Advocates persuade Council on autism treatment benefits

Chase Hoffberger, May 22, 2015

Public Notice: Golf and Taxes at City Council
Public Notice: Golf and Taxes at City Council
Proposals before Council suggest change is in the air

May 22, 2015

More by Michael King
Review: <i>You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey</i>
Review: You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
UT could learn a lot from these "crazy stories about racism"

April 13, 2021

SXSW Film Review: <i>Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America</i>
SXSW Film Review: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Jeffery Robinson's captivating lecture on America's shared legacy

March 24, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

City Council 2015, Travis County Appraisal District, minimum wage, Decker Lake Golf, Red Bluff

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle