Austinites could soon find themselves in a greater struggle to afford their homes, thanks to actions by the city council.
The Austin City Council recently agreed to a $925 million bond proposal that, if approved by voters in November, will raise the tax rate by two cents per $100 of property value — meaning the average homeowner will pay about $60 more per year in city taxes.
Add that amount to the other increases Austinites have seen in their overall tax bills, and it quickly becomes alarming. In just the past six years, the city of Austin has approved over $1 billion in bonds, alongside Austin ISD’s nearly $1.5 billion and Travis County’s $185 million.
On top of all that taxpayer-funded debt, the average Austin homeowner is paying 80 percent more in city property taxes than they did a decade ago, and taxes for the school district and county have gone up as well.
Conservative council member Ellen Troxclair, who voted against the newest bond, remarked that city council’s decisions only continue to hurt Austin homeowners. “The message that’s not seeming to get through is that the more bonds we pass and the higher we raise taxes, the more people can’t afford to stay in the homes they have,” she said.
The nearly $1 billion bond is 44 percent higher than what city staff advised, largely because of a $250 million bloc for affordable housing. If approved by voters, it would make history as the city’s largest affordable housing bond ever.
It would also make the city’s housing and affordability crisis even worse.
Though government-owned housing is often championed as fighting for low-income residents, the truth is it actually does the opposite: it stifles low-income homeowners when the city takes more of their money and hands it out to other residents.
On top of harming those homeowners, it is cruel irony when the city taxes one resident out of their house to pay for another’s new government-owned apartment, then calls that a solution to affordability. Communist council member Greg Casar said the bond was “the most important investment the city has ever made in confronting the housing crisis head on.”
Ask the low-income homeowners if it’s solving the crisis: they’re the ones having to move out of town because they can’t afford the taxes anymore.
The city doesn’t have to continue down this harmful path. They can stop the suffocating taxes and the unjust wealth redistribution. Leave people’s money in their own hands; they’re the ones who need it most.
Thankfully, the people will have a say as far as the bond. Come November, it is ultimately up to Austinites which direction the city—and their own money—will go.