Breakdown of Austin’s 2012 Tax and Fee Increases
Now that the city of Austin has passed its $3.1 billion budget, you can expect to pay more to help fund municipal services. But you might be confused as to what money is going where. Here’s the breakdown.
The city says the owner a $178,327 home – the median value in Austin – would pay about $217 more per year.
- Austin Energy rate increase: Extra $6.53/month or $78.36/year
- Austin Water Utility rate increase: Extra $6.77/month or $81.24/year
- User of a 64-gallon trash cart: Extra $1/month or $12/year
- Clean Community Fee to pay for things such as trash clean up and dead animal collection: Extra $1/month or $12/year
- Transportation User Fee on your power bill to pay for roads: Extra $0.51/month or $6.12/year
- Drainage User Fee: Extra $0.60/month or $7.20/year
- Property Tax Bill: Extra $1.67/month or $20.04/year
“Obviously I’m disappointed,” says Mayor Lee Leffingwell, the only person on city council to vote against the budget. “All 825,000 tax payers in the city of Austin, we have to keep those folks in mind and especially the effect of everything at once, utility rates and property tax.”
But that extra $217 a year still costs less than a cup of coffee per day, and we’re not even talking very good coffee.
“I think with the population growth that the city is experiencing, $200 in additional utility expenses per year seems pretty reasonable to me,” says Brian Kelsey with the Austin-based economic research firm Civic Analytics. “From a marketing standpoint, you never really like to see a tax rate increase in terms of economic development, but given Austin’s popularity, given the other strengths of the region here, I don’t think this recent increase is going to discourage new business activity.”
Some affordability advocates say it’s not the property tax increase that’s the problem. Heather Way at the University of Texas School of Law’s Community Development Clinic is more concerned with rising water and electricity rates. She points out the tax increase accounts for $20.02 of that annual $217 increase.
“And that all goes for bread and butter services,” says Way, “the things that we depend on like our parks and our libraries. The big problem really is our utilities. That’s the bulk of the increased costs that homeowners are going to be hit with, and we’ve got to figure out how to get those increased costs under control.”
Meanwhile, other taxing entities in Central Texas are waiting for their turn to ask for more money. The hospital district, Central Health, wants a five cent tax increase to help pay for a medical school. That’s going on the ballot in November.
The Austin school district is considering a tax rate election next year to pay for a raise for staff and also to help fund services like full day pre-K. Whether or not that moves ahead could depend on who wins four AISD school board races in November’s elections.