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Thursday, February 28, 2019

San Antonio Council Members Angle for Property Tax Relief Through Homestead Exemption

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 3:39 PM

click to enlarge Councilman Clayton Perry, flanked by councilmen John Courage (left) and Greg Brockhouse (right), discusses the proposed homestead exemption at a news conference. - SANFORD NOWLIN
  • Sanford Nowlin
  • Councilman Clayton Perry, flanked by councilmen John Courage (left) and Greg Brockhouse (right), discusses the proposed homestead exemption at a news conference.
Councilmen Clayton Perry and John Courage are urging San Antonio to join Texas' other big cities and adopt a homestead exemption that would grant homeowners a break on their property taxes.

The pair — sometimes at ideological odds on other issues — held a press conference today announcing they'd jointly asked city staff to research how such an exemption would affect city finances. San Antonio hasn't raised its property tax rate in years, but homeowners are nonetheless feeling a tax squeeze from rapidly rising home values.



"There are people having to sell and move out because of the property taxes that are associated with [home ownership]," Perry said. "And this city can do something about it. We keep 20 percent of that property tax."

Homestead exemptions — which shelter a set amount of a home's value from being taxed — are available in every other large Texas municipality, according the two North Side councilmen. As the name suggests, the exemptions apply only to a resident's primary dwelling, not to rental properties or vacation homes.

Perry and Courage were joined at the press conference by Councilman Greg Brockhouse, who's running against incumbent Mayor Ron Nirenberg in May's citywide election. Along with Perry, Brockhouse has advocated for a homestead exemption since joining council two years ago.

Courage said he'd come around to the idea more recently.

"In talking with council over the last year or so, most of us are getting to a point where we understand the significance of offering this homestead exemption, which probably should have been offered 10 or 20 years ago," Courage said.

Three other council members also signed off on Perry's and Courage's request, suggesting there's would be the six-vote majority needed for the tax break to pass. Council is expected to take action this spring, since it faces a July filing deadline to notify the state of plans to create exemptions in next year's budget.

Perry said the exemption would start small — likely five percent — to ensure it doesn't cut deeply into city revenues. It could then ramp up over time, perhaps to 20 percent, the maximum allowed under law.

"You hear a lot of talk about affordable housing here," Perry said. "This is a component."

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