Emails from Alice Claiborne, outreach director, Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair, and Michael Searle, chief of staff, March 2 and 13-14 and 29, 2017

12:58 p.m.

March 2, 2017

Please see how the stat was derived below:

 

For property taxes go into the Approved Budgets for FY2011/12 and FY2016/17. There is a property tax projection for the median valued home.

 

Page A.4. from the Fiscal Year 2011/12 budget states : “The median property tax bill is estimated at $879 per year, or $73 per month.”

Page 77 from the Fiscal Year 2016/17 budget shows : “property tax bill” for “median, non-senior homestead” is “$1,132.96”

 

Here is the email response from the City Demographer on income…

 

Michael,

 

We have MFI for all of our income tracking. Below is what we provided Council this year regarding this timeframe.

 

Median Family Income History

Austin

FY07

$69,300

FY08

$69,100

FY09

$73,300

FY10

$73,800

FY11

$74,900

FY12

$75,900

FY13

$73,200

FY14

$75,400

FY15

$76,800

FY16

$77,800

FY17 Projected

$78,671

 

 

 

Michael Searle

Chief of Staff, Councilmember Troxclair

Austin City Council, District 8

 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

Thank you,

Alice

 

Alice Claiborne

Outreach Director

Councilmember Ellen Troxclair, District 8

On Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 7:46 PM -0500, "Selby, Gardner” wrote:

I wanted to share too that I’m looking over US Census Bureau figures suggesting bigger bumps in median family income from 2011 through 2015, fetchable starting here. Per the American Community Survey, it looks like Austin’s 2015 median family income of $76,629 was up nearly 13 percent from the $68,023 median family income of Austin residents in 2012 and up 20 percent from the $63,672 median family income of Austinites in 2011. Some inflation adjustment might be needed.

 

The MFI data Troxclair relied on took in the entire Austin region, encompassing four counties.

 

g.

From: Searle, Michael

Sent: Monday, March 13, 2017 7:53 PM

Subject: Re: Following up, sharing other data

 

Thanks Gardner.

 

We used the property tax and income data supplied by the City of Austin Finance and Budget officers. As we discussed, the MFI data was supplied by the City demographer per CM Troxclair's request. We look forward to your article.

 

M

From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Monday, March 13, 2017 7:55 PM

To: Searle, Michael

Subject: RE: Following up, sharing other data

 

You understand that was MSA data then?

 

Who gave you the estimate for MFI for 2017? Please be specific or, better, point me to the individual?

 

g.

From: Searle, Michael [mailto:Michael.Searle@austintexas.gov]

Sent: Monday, March 13, 2017 8:02 PM

To: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin) <wgselby@statesman.com>

Subject: RE: Following up, sharing other data

 

Below is the question and response, copy and pasted from an email exchange with the Budget office.

 

“Also, what was the average increase in income in Austin over those same years? (I don’t know if you all just use mfi for this or what?)”

 

 

Response:

 

Median Family Income History

Austin

FY07

$69,300

FY08

$69,100

FY09

$73,300

FY10

$73,800

FY11

$74,900

FY12

$75,900

FY13

$73,200

FY14

$75,400

FY15

$76,800

FY16

$77,800

FY17 Projected

$78,671

On Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 10:08 AM -0500, "Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)" wrote:

Who would I reach about this in the budget office? Who sent that email?

 

10:27 a.m.

March 14, 2017

Brad Sinclair

From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:59 PM

To: Searle, Michael

Subject: Following up

 

Last call on this repeat question: Did the comparison draw on the wrong data? Feel free to pass this question to the council member.

 

g.

5:19 p.m.

Thank you for allowing her the opportunity to respond to that. Her response is as follows.

 

A City Council Member needs to be able to rely on the data provided by our financial and demographic experts in the City and we used the data that was provided by those experts. For income statistics since 2012, we specifically asked what the MFI for the City of Austin was and used the data that was provided in direct response to that inquiry. 

 

 

Michael Searle

Chief of Staff, Councilmember Troxclair

Austin City Council, District 8

From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 2:46:27 PM

To: Searle, Michael

Subject: Following up

 

Michael:

 

I’ve drafted this text for our fact check, which could wrap  up today or tomorrow.

 

If Council Member Troxclair sees error below or has other data or analysis to offer, please say soon.

 

g.

 

PASTE

 

Marya Crigler emailed us a chart showing that by TCAD’s calculations, the $1,137 in city taxes due on a median-value homestead property in 2016 was $124 greater, up 12 percent, from the $1,013 due on a median-value homestead in 2012. Those figures, Crigler said, took into account the curbing effect on tax bills from state and city homestead tax exemptions.

 

We devised another indicator of tax changes. At our request, Crigler emailed us tax data for eight geographically dispersed Austin homesteads whose owners faced about $879 in city taxes in 2011. Our intent was to analyze changes for homeowners who fielded the city tax bill that was attributed by the city’s 2011-12 budget to a median-value home at that time.

 

Results: Seven of the eight sampled properties faced higher taxes in 2016 than 2011 or 2012 but the scale of increase varied widely, from 3 percent to 23 percent.

 

Location mattered too. Among the sampled homesteads, the least tax differences showed up on properties in northeast Austin, far west Austin and southeast Austin. The biggest increases occurred in South Austin west of Interstate 35 and North Austin west of MoPac Boulevard and in the heart of East Austin, north and south of 51st Street.

 

Across the eight homesteads, we calculated, the difference between taxes levied in 2016 compared to 2011 and 2012 averaged 10 percent--or 66 percent less than the 29 percent difference suggested in Troxclair’s comparison tied to city budgets.

 

Put another way, Austin’s homestead property taxes were mostly higher in 2016 than four years previous. But it looks like homeowners weren’t socked as hard as Troxclair said.

From: Searle, Michael

Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 8:12:48 PM

To: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Subject: Re: Following up

 

I would say that looking only at homesteads gives a narrow picture. Due to the homestead exemption, the tax burden from non homesteads would have a greater increase. Plus, the income stats are not limited to homesteads.