Town of Austin has been engaged on discovering methods to coach seniors about alternatives to scale back their property tax. Town can also be creating a volunteer program that might enable seniors to offset a portion of the tax. However the pandemic and the extreme winter climate in mid-February slowed down the trouble.

A 2019 City Council resolution requested the town supervisor to organize suggestions to discover methods to succeed in seniors who qualify for the tax exemption. Beneath the town supervisor’s directive, the Communications and Public Data Workplace labored with staffers within the Price range Workplace, the Innovation Workplace, the Housing and Planning Division, the Parks and Recreation Division, Austin Public Well being, the Legislation Division, and the Travis Central Appraisal District to organize a report.

“I feel it is necessary for seniors to stay in the neighborhood and of their houses so long as they’re in a position,” Council Member Ann Kitchen mentioned. “I additionally think about it part of an age-friendly group.”

Austin adopted an age-friendly action plan in 2018 and was the primary metropolis in Texas to obtain an approval from the World Well being Group that yr. The plan, designed to make Austin a livable group for folks of all ages, was developed by the town’s Fee on SeniorsAARP, AustinUP, and different nonprofits working in coordination with Metropolis Council. 

Rising property values in Austin are forcing many residents and seniors residing on a set earnings to maneuver exterior the town as their houses change into unaffordable.

“The state legislation permits that individuals over 65 can file with the appraisal district that you just’re 65 or older after which get the senior tax exemptions which might be supplied by the town,” mentioned Janee Briesemeister, chair of the Fee on Seniors. This contains a $10,000 homestead exemption for college district taxes, along with the $25,000 exemption for all householders, in response to the TCAD web site.

Nonetheless, the workers report discovered that not all seniors who’re residents of Austin have utilized for the property tax exemptions, particularly in gentrified areas. Clearly extra outreach is required by the town.

The state of Massachusetts, which is talked about in staffers’ analysis, has developed a volunteer program that grants seniors a rebate of as much as $1,000 in alternate for volunteering, from portray hearth hydrants to answering telephones to stacking books within the public library. The same volunteer program is below dialogue in Texas.

Town, and our division, is presently dealing with two emergency response applications because of each the pandemic and the current winter storm occasion,” defined Julia Campbell, public data and advertising and marketing supervisor for the Housing and Planning Division.

Earlier outreach efforts by TCAD included a press launch and a city corridor assembly to offer further data to eligible householders, together with seniors.

TCAD has data on properties that use the over-65 exemption. It doesn’t have particular knowledge about which houses are eligible however haven’t but utilized as a result of it doesn’t require property homeowners to offer proof of their birthdates or ages.

Staffers’ analysis beneficial that the town share TCAD’s messaging, flyers and direct postal mailings, in addition to attain out to seniors by Austin Public Well being, the Fairness Workplace, and CPIO’s Neighborhood Outreach and Engagement staff. Additionally they prompt utilizing census knowledge to determine the variety of householders over 65. How the town will comply with by is but to be seen.

Picture made accessible by a Creative Commons license.

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