With Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell leading the way, the Austin City Council passed a budget that finally gives taxpayers a break. While tiny in size, the slight decrease in the tax rate is big symbolically because it disrupts a spending pattern that drove up property taxes by 38 percent between 2000 and 2010.
Time will tell whether financial sobriety finally has taken hold at City Hall or if in the future the council resumes spending habits that are pricing people out of the city. The break in tax rate won’t decrease tax bills for most residents. More cuts that would have brought greater relief to taxpayers were possible. Nonetheless, we applaud Leffingwell in leading the council in a new direction. The result is a budget that continues and even enhances city services, rewards employees, and for the first time in five years cuts the tax rate. That was done without sacrificing essential city services or community values and without gouging taxpayers.
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