Mayoral candidate and Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) released the first of a series of proposals that will comprise a policy punch list for his first 90 days in office, if elected in the June 8 runoff against Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
At the top of that list is a decreasing the property tax burden on local taxpayers by decreasing City taxes. Brockhouse proposes cutting spending what he calls frivolous projects.
“We don’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem,” Brockhouse said in a news release Monday, citing $18,000 spent on curtains in the mayor’s office, increased costs associated with renovations on City offices in the Frost Tower, and the Hardberger Park Land Bridge, which is not a part of the City budget but was included in the voter-approved 2017 municipal bond.
“The money is already there, we just need the leadership to make it happen,” he said of City spending.
Brockhouse has long criticized Nirenberg for not pushing for a reduced property tax rate and local homestead exemption, two of seven goals Brockhouse pledged to achieve in his first 90 days. However, most of the actions would require a majority vote from City Council, and it’s uncertain whether he would be able to sway enough Council members to back him.
Nirenberg has said that meaningful tax relief can be achieved, but it would require the State shifting the burden of school finance from local school districts and that small discounts like a decreased city tax rate would do little to impact local tax bills.
The City is responsible for about 22 percent of property owners’ tax bills. The City has not increased its property tax rates for 26 years, but they have been reduced seven times over the past two decades. When he was representing District 8 on City Council in 2014, Nirenberg voted alongside a unanimous Council to decrease the rate in 2015.
Brockhouse and Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) were the only two Council members to push for a lower City property tax rate during the last two budget cycles. Those decreases would have saved homeowners less than $9 per year, and reduce the City’s budget to provide services by $5 million.
“Over the next two weeks, our campaign will be rolling out a series of commonsense solutions to our biggest challenges,” Brockhouse stated in the new release announcing his “Action Plan SA.”
Kelton Morgan, Nirenberg’s campaign manager, said Brockhouse’s plan so far is just more rhetoric from the police and firefighters unions’ “puppet.”
“Typical of Councilman Brockhouse, his plan is all rhetoric and no actual plan,” Morgan said. “Brockhouse has already promised to mortgage our city’s future to pay off his public safety union puppetmasters. There will be no money left to fund any of his empty promises to voters.”
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Brockhouse worked for the unions as a political consultant before he was elected to the Council.
Here are the seven “action” items Brockhouse released on Monday:
- “A meaningful cut in property taxes in the upcoming budget.
- “A citywide homestead exemption.
- “A property tax freeze for development zones to prevent gentrification and displacement.
- “An increase in the military disabled veteran property tax exemption to match the disability rating.
- “Appointing a taxpayer advocate to the Bexar County Appraisal District.
- “A resolution asking Gov. Greg Abbott to add appraisal reform to any call he issues for a special session of the state legislature.
- “Creating a new protocol to prioritize property tax abatements for existing businesses who want to grow and expand over businesses first moving to San Antonio.”