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Homestead exemption discussion debated

Friday, August 1, 2014 by Michael Kanin

Though City Council was scheduled to discuss the possibility of a general homestead exemption at Thursday’s budget session, those talks will now take place during next week’s City Council work session. Faced with a busy meeting, Council opted to postpone the briefing, but Council Members Mike Martinez and Kathie Tovo resisted Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s suggestion that the briefing could take place after the budget was complete. Though Leffingwell argued that any homestead exemption “can’t be a part of this year’s budget anyway,” and could be held when Council had more time to talk about the idea, Martinez disagreed. “I think the point of the item was to bring it forward this budget cycle, because we are going to get continued requests as to why (we) are not entertaining the Homestead Exemption,” said Martinez. “We need to have that briefing to clearly demonstrate to our citizens that the 20 percent Homestead Exemption is going to cost us $35.5 million, and it is going to be very difficult. I think it’s important that we have that briefing during this budget cycle.” Sponsor Tovo agreed, saying she thought it would be better to discuss the proposition in the context of this year’s budget session. Leffingwell clarified that he had “no problem with any of that,” but pointed out that Council work sessions tended to be full without briefings, and predicted “folks would probably be bailing out” of the work session around noon, regardless of what was being discussed.

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