Tax freeze for elderly gets cold shoulder

Buda city leaders earlier this month expressed anxieties over a staff report on the possibility of adopting a tax freeze for senior citizens.

The study was performed in response to an agenda item request from council member George Haehn.

Finance Director June Ellis relayed the pros and cons associated with adopting a tax freeze for anyone 65 years of age or older.

Ellis’s presentation consisted of a 10-year projection surrounding different scenarios for Buda’s options regarding tax cuts or assistance programs for the 65-year-old and over population.

Ellis said the programs Buda already offers or supports includes an “over 65” exemption adopted in 1990 as well as a “homestead” exemption the same year and a “disabled” exemption adopted in 2003.

Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said Buda is already very generous with the exemptions offered to people over 65, and that he doesn’t feel like adopting a tax freeze would be “fiscally responsible.”

“Since a city or municipality can never go above a cap when one is set, the only mechanism for a city’s revenue becomes bond measures,” Ruge said.

Ruge said it means in order for the city to maintain roads and parks as well as other infrastructure property, they would need to pass additional bond measures in order to pay for it.

“The money has to come from somewhere,” Ruge said.

Council member Eileen Altmiller said on the dais that she doesn’t want to burden future councils with a tax freeze since it is irreversible.

Altmiller was also concerned regarding the added tax burden to the younger population of Buda should a tax freeze be adopted for anyone 65 years of age or older.

“I don’t think we should take away from or reduce the amount of exemptions we already offer,” Ruge said. “We need to hold the line on that.”

In September 2016, the Hays County Commissioners Court passed a resolution to freeze county property tax rates for veterans with disabilities, those who are disabled and seniors over 65.

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