River Authority increases homestead exemption as part of annual budget adoption – San Antonio Report

The board of directors of the San Antonio River Authority approved a $371.6 million-dollar budget last week for the authority’s upcoming fiscal year that will help fund Mission Reach erosion repairs, water quality modeling and floodplain remapping along several waterways in its purview.

The San Antonio River Authority oversees the upper San Antonio watershed within Bexar, Wilson, Karnes and Goliad counties; its duties include flood control, managing dams, maintaining parks and trails, operating sewage treatment plants and educating the public.

Following in the footsteps of other local taxing entities that have recently raised their homestead exemptions to help bring relief to homeowners facing rising property value assessments, the SARA board also approved increasing the river authority’s homestead exemption across its four-county jurisdiction to 4% from the previous 0.5%.

The increase will roughly double the existing minimum exemption of $5,000 to $10,000. The board of directors will vote to approve a final tax rate on Sept. 21, after receipt of the final certified property valuations in late July. A public hearing will be held on Sept. 21 prior to the adoption of the tax rate.

The river authority’s fiscal year begins July 1 and is based on a tax rate of 1.842 cents per $100 of valuation — approximately $46.24 per year for the average homestead, according to a press release issued by the authority last week. Statutorily capped at two cents per $100 of valuation, the river authority’s tax rate is set each year; last year’s rate was slightly higher, at 1.858 cents.

Board Chairman Jim Campbell called the new budget “responsible” and said it supports organizational goals by “advancing the River Authority’s commitment to the stewardship of the San Antonio River Basin and the communities we serve.”

Of the total available funds, $44.9 million are general fund revenues, with 94 percent generated from property tax. Other major revenue sources include intergovernmental revenue generated through capital improvements ($143.6 million), utility charges for the wastewater treatment services provided by the River Authority ($22.9 million) and grant funding ($6.7 million).

The adopted budget supports river authority projects and services that “enhance the safety, cleanliness and recreational opportunities across our four-county district,” said River Authority General Manager Derek Boese in a press release.

The budget “reflects the economic climate,” Boese said, while still allowing the river authority to “maintain capabilities and respond to targeted needs that contribute to the river authority’s support of creeks and rivers.”

The new budget includes the authorization of 55 projects. Projects will include initiating the design of a new nature-based park resource for the community that is informed by the recently completed parks master plan, freshwater mussel reintroduction along the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River Walk, collaboration with the City of San Antonio and Alamo Heights for the installation of green infrastructure along the river, and coordination with Bexar County on the development of the Bexar County Creeks and Trails Program and the Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project.

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