Austin homeowners and business owners are potentially looking at a double hit on their 2014 property tax bills that would not be necessary if the city weren’t giving away millions of dollars a year in waivers, services and incentives to profit-making ventures.
The double hit comes from the city’s push to raise the tax rate at a time when property values are going up. Rising property values, new business and construction, higher sales tax collections and a robust economy should balance the budget without a tax increase. Those economic trends and others would allow the city to collect more money just by maintaining the current rate of 50.29 cents per $100 of property value. But policies crafted years ago have become a drag on the city’s $803 million general fund budget — and the public’s pocketbook. Instead of asking taxpayers to pay higher and higher taxes and fees, the city should take other steps to close a $7.8 million gap. Why not require profitable ventures receiving freebies to pay their way?
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