Guest post - Vicki Totten, Austinites for Fair Taxes:
Thanks to Bill Oakey for his work in getting the below Truth in Taxation resolution before the Austin City Council this Thursday. This resolution is being sponsored by Council Members Troxclair, Kitchen, Gallo and Mayor Adler. The resolution is item #52.
Letters from citizens and groups in support of the resolution can be sent directly to each of the Council Members and Mayor Adler. You can use this link to do so: https://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members
Hi Leigh and Vicki,
My Truth In Taxation proposal for a Taxpayer Impact Statement is on the agenda as Item #52. It is a resolution. You can see the draft below.
Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to create and publish a Taxpayer Impact Statement.
( Notes: SPONSOR: Council Member Ellen Troxclair CO 1: Council Member Ann Kitchen CO 2: Mayor Steve Adler CO 3: Council Member Sheri Gallo )
WHEREAS, adopting a property tax rate and budget are critical functions and responsibilities of the City Council; and
WHEREAS, the tax rate and resulting budget provide funding for City of Austin services; and
WHEREAS, the property tax rate combined with changes in property values can result in higher tax bills for Austin residents from one year to the next; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Truth-in-Taxation Constitutional Provisions require taxing entities to disclose property tax rate proposals prior to adopting a final property tax rate for the year; and
WHEREAS, it is often difficult to clearly understand how a proposed tax rate, combined with changes in property tax values and other city fees, will affect the total tax financial impact in dollars on Austin residents; and
WHEREAS, in light of the rising property values in Austin, a decrease in the tax rate from the previous fiscal year does not guarantee a reduction in taxes, which leads to confusion for taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, for clarity, the City of Austin could disclose both proposed tax rates and the impact of the proposals expressed in dollar amounts for homes with different values as set out in the Taxpayer Impact Statement; and
WHEREAS, in a city struggling with affordability, it would be helpful for the City of Austin to provide this information not only as a commitment to full transparency, but also to help Austin residents accurately budget for future expenses; and
WHEREAS, all Austin residents have the opportunity to be involved in the budget process and would benefit from clear information regarding proposed changes to their city property tax bills in order to provide the best feedback; and
WHEREAS, the total taxes assessed and collected by the City of Austin to deliver city services are a significant cost to Austin residents, and it is the City of Austin’s goal to provide the most complete, accurate, and easily understood information about any changes in those taxes or fees; NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF AUSTIN:
The City Manager is directed to create a Taxpayer Impact Statement that shall include definitions of both the effective and rollback tax rates in simple terms. The Taxpayer Impact Statement shall also include charts with yearly totals (see attached framework to serve as a guide).
The City Manager shall post the Taxpayer Impact Statement on the City of Austin website, in the Proposed and Approved budget documents, financial forecasts, and other public documents regarding the City of Austin’s budget. The Taxpayer Impact Statement shall also be published in local newspapers two weeks prior to any public hearing on the budget. If circumstances, such as a protest of property tax appraisal values, prevents this publication date, the Taxpayer Impact Statement shall be published on a date as close as reasonably possible to the two weeks prior to the public hearing on the budget.