Friday, April 27, 2018

District 10 Homestead Exemption Proposal

Dear Neighbors,

If you're not yet aware, District 10 has been working to implement a City of San Antonio Homestead Tax Exemption for homeowners in San Antonio. We've talked about it at your neighborhood meetings and have have asked you to take a survey regarding the matter in our newsletters. We've done quite a bit of research on this initiative, and I'd like to share the results of that effort. You can find all of this below under "The Cost of Living in San Antonio".

Just as important, the yearly SASpeakUp Campaign is in full swing. SpeakUp “squads” are present around the city, soliciting feedback from our residents on what their budget priorities are for 2019. The budget survey asks you where you would like the City to allocate money in the General Fund for 2019, and offers you a comment field for any other thoughts on the budget. If you think it's time for San Antonio to have their own homestead tax exemption, take the survey, online or in person, and write in “We want a City of San Antonio Homestead Tax Exemption” in the comment field.

The Cost of Living in San Antonio

The City’s General Fund budget has grown from $852,277,006 in 2010 to $1,097,609,770 in 2017. Our budget grows because our revenue streams grow. As an example, our property tax revenue, CPS revenue, and SAWS revenue all grew from 2008 to 2016 by $63 million, $38 million, and $3.4 million respectively.

As our revenues climb, the City of San Antonio continues to grow as an organization. We are required by law to have a balanced budget, so when our coffers fill, we must do something with that money. Historically, we’ve put money back in city departments and expanded services.

However, since 2010, the combined average monthly mandatory fees assessed by the City have risen 32% to about $365 a year for the average resident. These fees include the monthly fees for your trash cart, storm water, and the environmental fees for solid waste and parks.

If you add up all the SAWS rate increases Council has approved since 2010, our rates are now 50% higher.

Every time these fee or rate increases come before Council for a vote, it is presented as a nominal increase that would not overburden our residents. However, the data shows that these nominal increases lead to a significant hit in our residents’ wallets. Our goal is to offer a homestead tax exemption to help offset these recurring increases.

We offer great services to the residents of San Antonio, and I know that there are costs associated with providing these services. However, I believe we need to focus our resources on the true core services that the City is mandated to provide to its residents. This pattern of raising more money and spending it outside of the core services concerns me. Why are we keeping the surplus in taxpayer dollars, allocating them back into general fund, but continuing to raise mandatory fees for City services?

A 10% Homestead Exemption on a $200,000-appraised home would save a resident $111.65 a year, offsetting the total fees paid to the City down to $253.39. A 20% exemption would save that same resident $223.31, offsetting their yearly fees down to $141.73. As you can see, we have the ability to help our residents continue to afford living in San Antonio.

As it turns out, San Antonio is the only major city in Texas without a homestead tax exemption. We are a proud city, always highlighting where we excel or come in first, yet we cannot bring ourselves to join the pack of other Texas cities in granting our residents relief.

Implementing a City of San Antonio Homestead Tax Exemption sends the message that we are acting in the best interests of our taxpayers. A homestead tax exemption says “Thank you for choosing to live here in San Antonio.” Implementing this measure says we want to be the best stewards of tax dollars and take what we need, not the whole pot.

The time is now for a City of San Antonio homestead tax exemption.

Thank you all for being active neighbors here in San Antonio. We appreciate your continued interest, and hope to see you at an upcoming meeting.

-Councilman Clayton Perry and the District 10 Team

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City Councilman Clayton Perry | 1635 NE Loop 410, Suite 510, San Antonio, TX 78209

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