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House approves controversial change to ‘sanctuary cities’ bill

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PROPERTY VALUES

Travis County’s taxable home values climb 8 percent for 2017: The average home value in Travis County rose nearly 8 percent for 2017, reflecting the continued strength in Central Texas’ housing market, the Travis Central Appraisal District said last week.

The 7.9 percent increase pushed the average taxable value to $307,997, up from $285,332 last year, Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler said in releasing the preliminary figures. The taxable value is the market value of homes, after exemptions.

Last year, the average taxable home value in Travis County increased 8.7 percent.

“The Austin region continues to thrive as it enters its eighth year of positive trends in its real estate and overall economy,” Crigler said in a written statement. “While there has been a slight tempering of the feverish pace that has characterized the past few years, Austin continues to enjoy one of the more vibrant regional economies in the country.”

This year, the market value for houses with a homestead exemption rose 6.3 percent on average — to $412,092 from $387,537 last year, Crigler said. Last year, the average residential market value increase was 9 percent.

The median market value was up 7.9 percent, rising to $319,265 from $295,792 last year, Crigler said. The median means half of the houses in Travis County were valued at less than $319,265 and half at more than that amount.

Crigler’s office is mailing about 431,631 appraisal notices this week. About 65 percent of homeowners with a homestead exemption will benefit from a cap that limits increases to 10 percent over last year’s assessed value, Crigler said.

A map supplied by the appraisal district shows all areas east of Interstate 35 with double-digit appreciation in market values and most areas west of I-35 with single-digit appreciation.

Eldon Rude, a local real estate expert, said it makes sense that areas in eastern Travis County “generally had the most significant increase in values last year.”

“The market areas in Travis County with the lowest housing inventory levels are generally those that have the most housing stock priced below $350,000, and most of these areas are located east of I-35 — Pflugerville, Manor, Del Valle and Southeast Austin,” Rude said.

For all properties in Travis County — residential and commercial — the preliminary taxable value for the overall roll jumped 16 percent over 2016, Crigler said. The value rose to $180 billion from $155 billion last year, led by a 23 percent increase in commercial values, Crigler said.

HELLO, RONCO

But wait, there’s an IPO: Austin’s Ronco files for public offering: Ronco Brands, a new Austin-based holding company for the maker of the Veg-o-Matic food processors and other iconic gadgets sold on late-night infomercials with the “but wait … there’s more” catchphrase, has filed to raise $30 million in an initial public offering.

And if investors act now, they can get a Ronco Rotisserie and Ronco Ready Grill along with their stock purchase — seriously.

The small company, incorporated less than two months ago as the parent of Ronco Holdings and its brands that include the Ronco Chiptastic Microwave Potato chip Maker, the Ronco 5 Minute Pasta Wizard and the Ronco Pocket Fisherman, among others, is valued at more than $100 million under the offering. William Moore, chief executive of Ronco Holdings, will control 97 percent of the shareholder voting rights once it’s completed.

In a written statement, Moore said: “The Ronco brand has been synonymous with ‘innovation’ for more than three generations of American consumers. Our products are found in millions of American homes. We’re proud of our legacy, and our reputation for providing American families with one of the most trusted and established lifestyle brands in our space.”

Ronco, founded by inventor and entrepreneur Ron Popeil in 1964, has gone through a number of ownership changes over the years and has filed for bankruptcy twice, most recently in 2007.

The company’s current owners bought it in 2011.

The company has 16 of its 23 employees at is Austin headquarters at 15505 Long Vista Drive, which is just off Interstate 35 in North Austin, near Pflugerville.

Ronco Holdings reported a net loss of about $4.5 million in 2015 on about $9 million in revenue, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it had a net loss of about $9.8 million in 2014 on about $6.6 million in revenue.



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