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City’s property taxes to decrease by 1 percent

Published 10:17am Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The city of Austin’s property taxes will likely decrease by about 1 percent next year.

The Austin City Council will finalize the city’s 2014 property tax levy at $4,120,000 and next year’s budget at about $30.8 million following a Truth in Taxation meeting Tuesday night.

Only one resident attended the meeting, which was dedicated to explaining the city’s finances through next year.

Finance Director Tom Dankert said city property taxes for commercial and residential properties will decrease on average by about 1 percent, though overall taxes will likely fluctuate. City officials say in the past, about 2 to 3 percent of city property taxes are covered by new growth, such as more people moving to the city and decreasing the overall tax burden.

Dankert also provided tax bill examples of homes and commercial properties owned by the city to give residents a sense of what their tax bill could look like.

A home valued at $79,500 will pay almost $6 less in city property taxes next year, from $329 to about $323. A $90,800 residential property’s city taxes will decrease from $255 to $251. A $347,000 commercial property’s city taxes will decrease from $2,567 to $2,521.

The city will likely have about 50 percent of its projected $14.8 million, 2014 general fund on-hand by the end of this year, whereas the city usually has between 42 and 48 percent of the following year’s expenses on-hand. That excess money could be used to fund more projects, according to Dankert. The council could also decrease the city’s tax levy.

“These are decisions the council will have to make by the end of next month,” Dankert said.

In addition, the city set aside $800,000 in police PERA funding once again to cover its part of the recent Law Enforcement Center remodel. That money was set aside for this year’s budget, but Dankert told the council Mower County officials hadn’t yet billed the city.

Dankert also went over several projects the city has scheduled for 2014, including street reconstruction efforts, a trail connection from Wildwood Park to Mill Pond, sidewalk and alley repairs, Mill Pond fountains, East Side Lake dam repairs, and warning sign programming. The city will also replace its computer servers next year as well, as city officials have used the same server for six years, when the industry average calls for replacing servers after three years.

The council will approve next year’s budget and tax levy at its Dec. 16 meeting.

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