Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he will vote in favor of a local property tax exemption for homeowners when City Council meets at 5 p.m. Monday, but he will not be in favor of subsequently increasing the City’s property tax rate to make up for the lost revenue.

The exemption would result in a revenue loss of nearly $6 million from the City’s budget, $3.7 million of which would be from the general fund, which the City uses to fund programs and services across San Antonio.

“I will identify specific budget reductions to pay for this tax relief without cutting public safety or essential services,” Nirenberg told the Rivard Report.

During a budget goal-setting session on Friday, City staff showed City Council options to regain the cost of a homestead exemption with a property tax increase. Adjusting the City’s effective property tax rate to the currently allowed rollback rate would increase its revenue by $6.8 million, netting the City roughly $3.1 million for its general fund.

“Homeowners have been asking for property tax relief,” Nirenberg said. “I intend to provide it without strings attached.”

The minimum-allowed homestead exemption will shave $5,000 off the appraised values of homes next year that are the primary residence of a property owner. The City’s property tax accounts for roughly 20 percent of total property tax bills.

The Bexar County Appraisal District will release its total tax rolls later this summer and the City will draft its fiscal year 2020 budget according to how much in property taxes it will collect next year.

Street maintenance, public safety, affordable housing, and family services emerged as top priorities during the day-long session last week, representing millions in potential funding.

Council members likely will see a tight draft budget in August, without room for all the additional programming and initiatives requested by them, residents, and City departments. The City already is receiving $7 million less than in previous years after recent state legislation eliminated fees the telecommunication companies no longer have to pay municipalities. The City’s property tax revenue collection will be further limited in 2021 due to new state-mandated revenue caps.

City Council will consider the budget in September; the fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org