The Austin Neighborhoods Council meeting took place on April 24, 2013.
Travis County Property Appraisals
We met our new Tax Assessor Bruce Elfant, and heard about this years appraisals from Appraiser Marya Crigler. Tax appraisals have been mailed out. They are based on previous year sales tax protests and the neighborhoods they are in. Tax exemptions available include: the homestead exemption (for home owners who live in their home), for those over 65, for the disabled and lastly, disabled Veterens. Tax bills are mailed out in October 1 and are due January 31, and protests must be submitted by May 31. Penalties are stiff; if you go a year without paying your taxes you could accrue up to 24% interest in fees. There are 4 payment plans:
1. For those over 65, taxes can be paid in 4 installations.
2. For those over 65, taxes can be deferred indefinitely although this is not recommended. The tax bill will have to be paid shortly after you pass away or the state will seize the land.
3. Partial payments are accepted. The interest is not excused.
4. Escrow payments through bank draft.
Payments can be made by cash in person, credit card (3% fee) or electronic check ($5 fee).
This office is also in charge of voter registration. Elfant wants to increase voter registration by 200,000 this year.
When the floor was opened to questions ANC members expressed concerns that resident’s taxes are increasing while businesses seem to be getting a break. One question was raised about the county’s ability to correctly appraise business properties. Residents feel business properties in Austin have been under appraised for some time now. For example, AMD recently sold a property in Austin for $165 million. That property was originally appraised at $130 million. AMD protested, lost the protest and then sued to get the appraisal down to $90 million.
Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole on Imagine Austin
Opticos Designs was chosen to lead the land development rewrite process. They have chosen a form-based code approach. There will be monthly meetings of the LDC Advisory Committee, and they are open to the public.
Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole on Affordable Housing
Cole stressed the importance of affordable housing in Austin. Since Prop. 15 did not pass in November she will be proposing another bond to pay for it. She said that the housing is needed by women, children, elderly and veterans in the community. She feels that people are afraid of affordable housing because they associate it with the crime ridden projects of the 70’s. She invited everyone to go on a tour of some affordable housing projects to see how nice they are. She said that transportation and environmental problems are augmented by the increase of commuters created by the lack of affordable housing in the center of the city. The solution is to create affordable housing in town and keep people from having to make a long commute to work every day. She also said that construction of the new affordable housing will create jobs.
Project Duration Ordinance Update
City Council is going to come up with something to replace the Project Duration Ordinance that they repealed. We are interested to see what that will be.
Planning Commission Comprehensive Plan Committee
Richard Hatfield from the Planning Commission Comprehensive Plan Committee said that the Imagine Austin Plan is not set in stone. It is an ongoing process that involves listening to and respecting neighborhood plans. There will be an annual report to city council in October.
Parkland Resolution Update
The Parkland Parking Ordinance will allow businesses within 1,000 ft of a city park to use the park’s unused parking as their own. These businesses would also only have to meet 75% of their parking requirements. There are 3,200 businesses in Austin within 1,000 ft. of a city park. They could all potentially benefit from this ordinance. ANC believes this is setting a bad precedent, and believes that the city should not be negotiating it’s assets to the highest bidder. Let City Council know how you feel about selling off parts of its public parks.
10-1 Redistricting Process Update
The 10-1 process is on schedule. On May 16th 400 applicants will be narrowed down to 60. By the end of August the final panel will be in place and the process of redrawing Austin’s 10 new districts will begin.
Proclamation from City Council in honor of ANC’s 40th Anniversary,
May 9, 2013, 5pm, at City Hall.