College Station residents may see a tax increase come October

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) -- College Station residents may soon see an increase in their taxes.

The city's proposed budget, revealed at Thursday's city council meeting, includes a small tax increase of $0.8341 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The city council voted in June to adopt a homestead exemption of 5 percent, knowing it would require a small tax increase in this year's budget. The exemption is designed to shift a small portion of the property tax burden off permanent residents. Without factoring in an increase in property values, College Station says the homestead exemption would give permanent residents a small reduction in their taxes. This year the city of College Station had a 6.7 percent increase in property valuations.

College Station resident Sara Price and her husband are local business owners. They say they are already paying a lot to live in College Station.

"It is hard for hard-working residents to pay more for their homes," Price said.

The city of College Station says it will need more than $360 million to operate next year, much of which will be devoted to growth and service demands. The city pointed out, however, next year's proposed budget is actually 1.37 percent smaller than this year's approved budget.

"It's going to be continuing a lot of the things that we're doling to keep up with the growth in the community, these capital projects,” said Assistant City Manager Jeff Kersten. “A lot of it is going to be continuing many of the efforts we've started over the last number of years."

The city says, due to new construction and increase in existing property value, revenue loss from the five percent homestead exemption can be made up for with the small increase.

"Those people who have the homestead, overall, in general will be paying about what they would have been paying otherwise. Those who don't have a homestead would be paying a little bit more," Kersten said.

Price hasn't filed her exemption, but wishes the city would ask developers to pick up the bill.

"It already seems like a lot, and I feel like college station is growing. I wish we could do some kind of tax on student housing or investor tax, rather than taxing the residents," Price said.

The City of College Station stressed the homestead exemption and small tax increase are intended to shift more of the tax burden to the student housing market, rather than permanent residents.

Also included in the proposed 2019 budget are pay raises for police and firefighters, plans for significant street maintenance and road projects, new parks and facilities, and utilities projects including automated meters for College Station Utilities. The complete proposed budget is attached to this story.

Residents won’t see any tax increase on their bills until October, once the budget has been passed by the city council.

The council will begin workshop meetings on the budget on August 20. The first public hearing on the proposed budget is September 5.