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San Antonio city council provides additional property tax relief for residents

The city council approved homestead exemptions that will impact hundreds of thousands of households across the city.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio city council is approving an increase in existing homestead exemptions for San Antonio homeowners, providing relief for all homeowners including seniors and disabled persons.

During Thursday's meeting, city staff gave a presentation increasing the general homestead exemption up to 10 percent of the appraised value of a home, increasing the exemption for persons 65 and older from $65,000 to $85,000, and increasing the exemption for disabled persons from $12,500 to $85,000.

For each homeowner that qualifies for the above exemptions, 240,000 homes would be impacted. Councilmembers voted 10-0 to approve the increases.

"We have found an area of agreement," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said after the vote was taken.

Deputy CFO Troy Elliott for the city of San Antonio says residents will not see an increase in their tax bill compared to last year. They could see a minimal reduction.

"It's not that we couldn't do more, I think we wanted to provide a balanced relief or a balanced process. Like I mentioned to the council is that looking, how do we balance property tax relief for our residential homestead customers but also provide relief for our commercial, multi-family and small business owners," Elliott said.

Those changes will be reflected in the city's tax bills that will go out in October.

According to city staff, they looked at 15 different scenarios in order to provide property tax relief.

Under state statute, there are some tax limitations including an appraisal cap where all homesteads in Texas are limited to a 10% appraisal value increase per year. When the state legislature passed SB2 in 2019, it reduced the property tax roll-back rate from 8% to 3.5% applicable to the Maintenance and Operations portion of the tax rate.

The city cannot go above the 3.5% revenue cap without triggering an automatic election, but the city says there will be a proposed reduction of next year's tax rate in the proposed budget, which the City Manager will present in August.

"When you look at the tax bill it's really a factor of three different pieces...you have the assessed value cap at 10%, its a function of the exemption we're increasing to 10%, then you also have the reduction in the tax bill," Elliott said.

City documents say in the 2022 fiscal year, the city provided $72.4 million in tax relief to citizens with existing homestead exemptions. The increase in exemptions will provide an estimated $93.8 million in relief to residents.

This comes at a time when the prices of homes continue to rise and property value protests are reaching record numbers.

According to the presentation, 170,200 protests have been filed with the Bexar County Appraisal District to protest the assessed value of homes.

The moves received praise from all council members, but some acknowledged that there is more they could do to provide relief.

"This vote today is a good start but is not enough to stop the displacement of residents, it will be a small chunk of their bill but we need to be doing more," Councilmember Jalen McKee-Rodriguez stated.

Councilmember Clayton Perry said he was "all in" on the proposal after pushing for property tax relief since the city council's goal-setting session for the upcoming budget year.

The homestead exemption increase got approval from the chair of the San Antonio Board of Realtors.

Tracie Hosslocher, chairwoman of SABOR said during public comment over the last year, San Antonio, average home sales prices has increased to $396,000 and this years appraisal values on single-family homes are up 28%.

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