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Austin City Council approved a 20% homestead exemption on property taxes Thursday. (Austonia staff)

Austin City Council voted to double the city's property tax homestead exemption to 20%, the maximum allowed by state law, on Thursday. City staff estimate that the median homeowner would save $141 in Fiscal Year 2021-22 under this new rate.

Homeowners pay property taxes to multiple entities, including Austin ISD, Travis County, Central Health and Austin Community College District, in addition to the city of Austin. The city's tax rate accounted for less than a quarter of the combined tax rate levied by these five entities.

Supporters say the increased homestead exemption provides necessary tax relief as home values continue to skyrocket—and after council approved approximately $50 million in pandemic-related rental relief. But opponents raised concerns about the percentage-based exemption, which they say disproportionately benefits high-value homeowners and shifts the tax burden onto commercial property owners, who could push it onto renters.

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Camp Mabry takes up 400 acres of land in Austin city limits that could be used to help the housing crisis some argue. (Leonardo Cognoscenti/CC)

If you've lived in Austin long enough to get stuck in rush-hour traffic on MoPac, you're probably familiar with Camp Mabry.

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The Austin-area rental market continues to improve after a pandemic slump, in part due to the extreme growth of the local housing market. (Pexels)

The Austin rental market continues to see average monthly rents and occupancy rates creep up after a pandemic slow down that offered rare relief to tenants.

The average monthly rent in the Austin metro is now $1,371, up from $1,275 in June 2020 and $1,291 in 2019, according to the June market report from ApartmentData.com. The occupancy rate is 90.7%, which is slightly higher than last June, when it was 88.9%, and slightly lower than in June 2019, when it was 91.3%. These changes have coincided with a lower rate of concessions, such as one-month-free specials and other discounts. Around a quarter of units are rented with concessions as of this month, compared to 31% in May and 37% in April, according to the report.

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While cities and counties are limited by state law to 3.5 percent revenue increases and school districts are limited to 2.5 percent increases (unless a disaster has been declared), the appraisal district is planning for massive spending increases.

The agency's 2021 budget was the same as its 2020 budget: $20,193,893. But the proposed 2022 budget unveiled at yesterday's Budget Work Session weighed in at just a hair under $25 million—$24,986,951 to be exact.

The TCAD board advised staff to do what it could to either reduce or delay increased spending as much as possible before coming back to its June 8 meeting with a full-blown draft budget for further consideration.

Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.