About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Bill would allow East Austin land bank without Travis County participation
A bill from state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, would allow the long and hotly debated creation of a homestead preservation district in East Austin to move forward without funding participation from Travis County. If approved, the measure would circumvent – for the moment – repeated objections to the district, primarily from Pct. 4 County Commissioner Ron Davis.
Austin City Council members are set to endorse Rodriguez’ bill on Thursday. Council Member Mike
“Arguably, we’ve lost tons of opportunities since 2005 with people having to move out because of escalating property taxes,”
If funded, a homestead preservation district would use tax increment financing – a pool of money derived from the increase in tax revenue that accompanies an increase in property values – to purchase land that could be set aside for affordable housing. Future homeowners would own the structures on the property, with the district holding the land underneath it.
That concept, called a land bank, has drawn
Though he did not refer specifically to
The Texas Legislature created a homestead preservation district that extends south from roughly the Cherrywood neighborhood, east from I-35, west from
Rodriguez’ legislation would remove the county from the equation by simply altering district rules to allow the city to fund the district without help from the county because, as
The altered version of the homestead district financing plan would include only a portion of the city’s segment of resident tax bills. Though
At Tuesday’s work session, the idea that the city would be the only party financially involved prompted remarks from Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “There were extensive discussions about why we wanted county and city participation and I just think that if we decide to go forward with it, that we ought to have those discussions again.”
Thursday’s resolution would only extend city support for Rodriguez’ effort to move around county politics. It would not commit anyone to approval of the district.
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