"And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!"
1 Kings 12:11
At this point...it's not surprising anymore:
Approved Austin 2017 budget comes with higher tax bill, new programsThe budget speaks for itself; nevertheless, THIS is an extraordinary act of chutzpah:
After months of debate over the 2017 Austin city budget recommended by staffers, most of the changes the City Council made to the $3.7 billion budget were incremental compromises. Increasing the homestead exemption for seniors to $82,500 instead of $85,000. Adding several hundred thousand dollars in health and human services increases instead of a few million.
Once all the details were hammered out Wednesday night, the City Council approved a budget that will charge the typical resident about $87 more in city taxes and fees next year. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Next year’s operations include a 2 percent pay increase for city employees, to kick in during the pay period before Christmas. There’s funding for a new curbside composting program, at a cost of $4.2 million to the city and a phased-in cost of $64.80 to homeowners after five years. There’s $600,000 more for housing aimed at reducing homelessness.
The $970 million general fund also includes money to hire eight new employees to test DNA evidence for police, one facet of the rape kit backlog that prompted emotional testimony before the council two weeks ago. Austin also set aside $475,000 to help keep live music venues and $400,000 to extend healthy food options.
The new property tax rate of 44.18 cents per $100 of property valuation will be a decrease from last year’s rate of 45.89 cents. The council also voted earlier this summer to increase the homestead exemption, knocking 8 percent off the taxable value of a home, up from 6 percent. But with rising property values, most homeowners will receive higher tax bills. For the typical homeowner, that will mean a $46 increase in the annual property tax bill.
Fees in most areas of the city will also increase, including an average water cost increase of $35 for the year. But, thanks to a deal approved last month between ratepayers and Austin Energy, annual electricity costs will decrease an average of $44 for the year.
Council Members Don Zimmerman and Sheri Gallo voted against the budget, saying they couldn’t support the associated tax and fee increases. Council Member Ellen Troxclair, who recently gave birth to a daughter, didn’t attend the vote, but issued a written statement detailing her opposition.
Translation: I totally just increased your taxes across the board, but y'all better thank your lucky stars I didn't increase them even further...#ANewWayForward.
Amidst a record population influx, record development revenues, and record levels of tourism, our City is benefitting from over $40 million in additional revenue this year. Yet, our city government spending is greatly outpacing this growth, meaning current residents are still being asked for more.Bottom Line: However you define it, every single person on that dais campaigned on the issue of "affordability." We can quibble over the relative importance between housing costs and direct governmental levies in driving Austin's affordability challenges, but the fact remains that BOTH matter. And, over the past two years, the incumbent council majority has made both issues worse...#ANewWayForward.
Update: Amen, Matt Mackowiak...