City approves ‘15 levy hike

Published 10:26 am Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Austin City Council has approved the city’s 2015 budget and set a 4.98 percent tax levy increase for next year.

Council members set the city’s tax levy on Monday night to $4,325,000 in 2015, which is about 4.98 percent higher than this year’s levy, to add 1.5 jobs, cover increasing costs and maintain services. The council also set the city’s budget at $31.2 million for next year.

City officials are looking to increase the city budget by $205,000 to help pay for a new full-time librarian and to move a part-time building inspector position up to full time.

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Librarian Gayle Heimer announced her retirement earlier this year, which goes into effect in April 2015. Austin Public Library Executive Director Ann Hokanson told the council in June that she would have to hire two full-time librarians to replace Heimer, who did multiple jobs for the library.

The 4.98 percent increase may not translate to a large increase in taxes, however. A homeowner whose property is valued at about $100,000 in Austin could see a $10 to $11 increase in its city tax share, or about a 2 percent increase. Likewise, commercial properties valued at about $350,000 could have an $18 increase, or about 0.68 percent rise in city taxes.

In addition, the city’s increasing population usually accounts for a 2 to 3 percent annual increase in taxes collected as more homes are added to the city’s tax roll, thus reducing everyone’s taxes.

In other news, the council:

—Approved the city’s five-year capital improvement plan. The city looks to spend about $127 million over the next five years.

—Approved a $500,000 shift in funds toward the city’s Oak Park Mall demolition project.