School board finalizes housing abatement plan; Opponents argue that money is being sacrificed

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Austin Public Schools Board took a few last steps Monday to finalize its participation in the Austin Housing Initiative.

The board previously voted to support and participate in the city-led plan to offer a tax abatement for people building new homes and apartments.

It means those building over the next three years can apply to the school, city and county to get five years free of paying property taxes.

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The board finalized some paperwork Monday and adjusted the dates of the program to match the city and county abatement plans, which will run through Dec. 31, 2019.

Austin officials have long sought ways to address a shortage of workforce housing, and Mayor Tom Stiehm formed an ad hoc housing committee to address the issue.

Austin City Administrator Craig Clark has said that in four years, Austin will need another 300 rental units and 118 single family or townhouse units.

But 2015 only saw six new homes built in Austin with an average of 10 new homes each year over the last six years.

Proponents argue the abatement sacrifices five years of taxes as an incentive to boost the long-term tax capacity as the average homes stays on the tax rolls at least 40 to 50 years.