AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Austin City Council considers giving homeowners a tax break through a homestead exemption, members of the council are also examining possible cuts.
The idea, which was a prominent idea in some campaigns, would allow homeowners to exempt 20 percent of the value of their property from Austin property taxes. However, council is also considering a phased approach, in which the exemption starts at a lower rate and grows over a number of years. One option is to start with a lower exemption of six percent. According to a city presentation, an exemption at that rate would save the median Austin homeowner $49 a year.
As council considers its options, the city manager prepared a report based on department responses with potential cuts totaling more than $23 million. It also includes getting rid of more than 150 jobs, with more than 90 coming from the police department.
“It’s been very upsetting and depressing to officers,” said President of the Austin Police Association Ken Casaday.
He said the potential cuts could hit the DWI unit and the suggestions put the police district representative program in jeopardy.
“[That program] is loved by the community,” said Casaday. “They love having someone to be able to call and talk to about their problems and the issues in their neighborhood. And that would totally be gone.”
It also comes at a time when police are asking the city for more officers.