Property Tax Relief a Key Priority of the City in 2019 Legislature

posted by 1200 WOAI - 

San Antonio City Council is making a list and checking it twice, as it begins to prepare for the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature, which begins in five months, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

City Intergovernmental Relations Director Jeff Coyle told City Council there are five issues on the city's priority list, with number one being reductions in skyrocketing property taxes.

He says the only way to do that is to get the state to take on more of the responsibility of funding public schools.

"We support property tax relief, meaningful property tax relief, that ultimately gives real benefits to our residents here in the community," Coyle said.

Taxpayer sentiment has been strong as property taxes rise along with the appraised value of homes.

But Coyle says if you want to see the real culprit, don't look to City Hall, look to the Legislature, which has taken advantage of those rising values by shifting more of the burden of funding public schools to local property tax payers.

"The state used to fund about half of the costs of public ed, with local taxpayers funding the other half," Coyle said.  "It has dropped now to about 38% state funding, 62% local property tax."

City officials have long fought efforts in the Legislature to cap city budget and property tax increases, saying those proposals would save taxpayers 'less than five dollars a month,' while severely restricting the ability of the City to deal with the rising costs that come with growth and modernization of infrastructure.

Other key City priorities for 2019 include stopping the imposition of new restrictions on the operation of city governments statewide.  The conservative Legilalture sees the generally liberal councils of the state's major cities as epitomizing overspending and over regulation, and has taken sever steps to limit City government powers, including the measure approved last year to strip cities of their authority to annex populated areas without the approval of residents who live in those areas.

The City will also look for expanded abilities to grand property tax relief to targeted homeowners, for example, to people in areas where residents are facing the possibility of being 'taxed out of their homes' by gentrification.

The City will also fight efforts to eliminate a state fund that helps reimburse cities for hosting major events like the 2018, and 2025, Final Fours.

And, the City will work hard int he 2019 Legislature to support measures to protect Joint Base San Antonio, including the ability to regulate land use around military bases, to continue to receive grants and loans to make improvements to the infrastructure around bases, and to protect the City's tree ordinance, which is seen as a way to maintain the ability of the Army to continue operations at Camp Bullis by providing habitat for endangered birds in northwest Bexar County.

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