San Antonio homeowners will save on property tax bills.

As their property values ​​skyrocket this year — raising fears of big tax bills for 2022 — San Antonio homeowners got some relief from the City Council on Thursday.

Council members voted 10 to 0 for a homestead exemption that will shield 10% of a residence’s appraised value from municipal taxation.

That’s a huge increase over the exemption the city already had in place, covering just 0.01% of a property’s value, or a minimum of $5,000 per household. This is the smallest break allowed by state law.

District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry — a fiscal conservative on the Northeast side who frequently berates his colleagues for what he describes as their free-spending ways — celebrated Thursday’s vote.

“I’m as happy as can be,” Perry said. “I am happy not for me but for our taxpayers, our owners. It’s not our money.

The city council also approved an increase in the city’s homestead exemptions for people aged 65 and over and people with disabilities.

District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval, who gave birth to a baby girl on June 5, was absent from Thursday’s meeting.

With a host of real estate investors and home buyers driving up home prices in San Antonio, values ​​have jumped a record average 23.2% this year from $250,806 to $309,118, according to the Bexar County Assessment District.

Between 2015 and 2020, property values ​​have not increased by an average of more than 7% per year.

Owners of residential and commercial properties have not taken well to the surge in valuations. The Assessment District held more than 156,000 protests this year, another record. The deadline for protesting was May 16.

The city estimates that $5 billion in home values ​​will be reduced from assessed value just because of the protests.

how much you will save

At least 240,000 households could benefit from an increased exemption.

This would save a taxpayer whose home is valued at $100,000 about $55. For someone who owns a home worth $200,000, the savings would be $109. When the assessed value is $300,000, a homeowner would see about $164 in savings.

The homestead exemption for seniors will increase from $65,000 to $85,000, which can be deducted from the value of their property. People with disabilities will also be able to reduce their taxable value by $85,000, down from $12,500 previously.

Still, the council’s action on Thursday will not allay ratepayer concerns.

The larger homestead exemption only applies to the city’s share of their tax bills. San Antonio property taxes make up about 20% of a homeowner’s total bill, said Bexar County Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti. School district taxes make up about half of the bill, while Bexar County receives about 11%.

Last month, city officials also discussed lowering the tax rate from 55.8 cents per $100 of property value to 54.5 cents. Council members will finalize the city’s tariff later in September.

But a lower tax rate doesn’t always equate to lower property tax bills.

“In all reality, they are still going to pay more taxes,” Uresti said.

Still, he applauded the city’s work to combine a lower tax rate with a greater homestead exemption, saying it still makes a difference.

In one respect, the city council has little choice in easing the tax burden on residents.

In addition to voters seeking relief, council members also face a state law that caps property tax revenue growth for cities at 3.5% year-over-year. Anything above this threshold triggers an election.

If council members kept the tax rate at 55.8 cents per $100 of property value, this year’s rising assessments make it likely the city’s property tax would increase by more than 3.5 cents. % compared to last year.

This year, property taxes are the main source of revenue — at $410.3 million — for the city’s $1.36 billion general fund, which pays for street repairs, policing and protection against fires and other basic services.

San Antonio officials say the 10% homestead exemption will essentially offset any increase in municipal tax bills for eligible homeowners.

Last week, Bexar County passed a 20% exemption on homesteads, the maximum allowed in Texas.

County commissioners passed a $5,000 family break in March — the first in the county — in an effort led by new commissioner Marialyn Barnard. They also increased the University Health Hospital District exemption for residents age 65 and older from $10,000 to $30,000.

School districts will also get a larger exemption for homesteads after voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in May that allows homeowners to reduce their home’s assessed value by $40,000, an increase $15,000 over the existing school district homestead exemption.

“I’m glad to see all the different tax entities making an effort because it helps keep families in their homes,” Uresti said.

The increased exemption helps Mayor Ron Nirenberg meet the tax relief he promised spooked homeowners when the city began work on its next annual budget earlier this year. It also gives Nirenberg and the council members political bragging rights.

North side councilors John Courage and Perry made the first push for a larger property exemption. Southwest side councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia had called for a larger exemption for people with disabilities.

“I think there’s still work to be done,” Courage said. “I think it’s step by step. But I think it’s a good step.

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Penny D. Jackson