Home Government Universal City residents petition for tax freeze

Universal City residents petition for tax freeze

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property tax

Neighbors seeking a property-tax freeze for older residents and disabled homeowners could see the measure appear on the November ballot.

The city on April 1 received a petition with 982 signatures, more than the 573 currently required by law.

According to City Clerk Kristin Mueller, 851 verified signatures were enough to certify the petition.

The City Council now must vote to put the tax-freeze proposal on a Nov. 2 special-election ballot. Leaders have until Aug. 16.

State law dictates that if enough eligible voters submit a petition calling for a public vote, the council is compelled to approve an election.

The city already offers seniors and disabled homeowners a $10,000 exemption off their property taxes.

Universal City levies the third-highest total property-tax rates among Bexar County’s 28 municipalities — 58.5 cents per $100 valuation, according to officials.

The 2020 median home value in Universal City was $182,746.

Petition organizer Kim Igleheart said seniors and disabled taxpayers deserve more relief given rising appraisals, and the absence of a local senior center, dedicated public transit or other services.

“Petition circulators were deeply moved by the personal accounts shared by elderly petition signers, some moved to tears, and hope this petition will bring them some relief,” Igleheart said.

Igleheart addressed misinformation on social media about an approved tax freeze’s effect on municipal finances.

“A freeze for some does not mean increased taxes for others, nor a loss in city services,” Igleheart said in a press release. “The city has numerous other means of offsetting the lost revenue, including substantial revenue increases from sales taxes, ambitious economic development and new residential housing construction.”

At press time, City Manager Kim Turner said the city had yet to formally assess the current number of local seniors and disabled homeowners, or a tax freeze’s potential impact.

City staff will present an analysis to the council, and then to voters ahead of a special election. Setting an election, city officials said, does not reflect the council’s opinion for or against a tax freeze.

Turner said it’s important to understand a multiyear view of property values and taxes, and not just a look at one year, because property values increase yearly.

She added a fraction of a resident’s tax bill supports the city, with the rest going to other local taxing entities.

“We must see what happens in the long term,” she added.

Turner encouraged residents to consider the big picture: “Whether you have a tax freeze, you still have to drive on the same streets, walk the same sidewalks … use the same services supported by your taxes.”

eortiz@localcommunitynews.com

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