San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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November 24th, 2007
Council gives initial ok to modest tax break for elderly homeowners

With an exemption increase given preliminary approval, San Marcos’ senior citizens will get some property tax relief.

Managing Editor

In 2005, Jack Hugman got the cold shoulder when he set out to convince local government officials to freeze tax bills for homeowners older than 65. Appearing before the city council and commissioners court, the local AARP leader argued that retired people on fixed incomes deserve a tax bill insulated from yearly increases in appraisal values. He said he was ignored.

“It went over like a lead balloon. They didn’t want to hear a word of it and came up with all kinds of off-the-wall excuses for why it shouldn’t be done,” Hugman, 79, said later.

Fast-forward two years and Hugman’s one-man offensive has paid off. Partially.

When it takes its third and last vote on the measure Dec. 4, the city council will finalize an increase in the senior homestead exemption from $10,000 to $25,000 in property value and authorize a $45,000 exemption for legally disabled homeowners. About 2,017 elderly San Marcos homeowners will qualify for the exemption next year, the Hays Central Appraisal District estimates.

In increasing the exemption, city officials are following Hays County which last year implemented a senior exemption increase to $45,000 and added a $45,000 exemption for disabled residents. The exemption went into effect this year.

As with the county, the city took up the issue in an election year that saw incumbents in tight re-election bids. The council instructed staff to draw up the legal paperwork to put the senior exemption increase into effect in October. Staff originally proposed a $10,000 increase to $20,000 but council members decided Nov. 5 – a day before the election – to up the tax break to $25,000. The measure passed unanimously on second reading this week.

The change will result in $96,788 less in ad valorum revenue each year, Interim City Manager Collette Jamison said. That’s assuming the tax rate stays the same and everyone else does not get older.

Homeowners must apply to the appraisal district for the exemption by Jan. 1 but residents who already qualify for a city senior exemption do not have to re-apply. Residents cannot claim both the senior and disabled exemptions and couples and other joint homeowners get one exemption between them.

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3 thoughts on “Council gives initial ok to modest tax break for elderly homeowners

  1. While it is true that we voted the day before election day on this agenda item, it should be pointed out that it was on the second of three readings required to pass this ordinance. The discussion of the effects on the general fund budget and the impact on our citizens however took place about 2 months prior to election day. The increase in the exemption from $20,000 to $25,000 came from an amendment I made on the first reading, 3 weeks prior, on October 16th.

    John Thomaides
    San Marcos City Council

  2. I stand corrected on the dates Brad. Well done. There is often a lag time between a discussion item that has consensus and voting on an agenda item, and it is not always the next meeting. Then again, I don’t set the agenda!

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