New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 18, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
10A □ Herald-Zeitung □ Friday, April 18,1997Exemptions can reduce property
Special to the Herald-Zeitung
Homeowners can reduce their property tax bills in 1997 by taking advantages of exemptions. Application forms are available at the Comal Appraisal District office.
Lynn Rodgers, chief appraiser of the Comal Appraisal District, informs homeowners that Texas law allows them to file a one-time application for home exemptions. These exemptions reduce the appraised value of the home. “You do not have to pay a fee to file for a homestead exemption,” Rodgers said.
Property owners who have never received exemptions on their homes in which they were living on Jan. I, 1997, and those who became 65 or disabled during 1996, must apply this year to receive exemptions for 1997. Homeowners must file signed, completed applications at the appraisal office by April 30.
A homeowner’s principal residence and yard are considered the
residence homestead. It can include as much as 20 acres of land and improvements (buildings), such as a swimming pool, greenhouse or other structure, as long as the owner uses them for residential purposes.
Rodgers said a property must meet four tests set by law in order to qualify for the residence homestead exemption. The person or persons claiming the exemption must own the property on Jan. I; the property must be designed or adapted for human residence; the owner must use the property as a residence; and the property must be the principal residence of an owner who qualifies for the exemption.
A mobile home, even on leased land, can qualify for the residential homestead exemption if it meets the four tests.
“A property owner can still qualify for the homestead exemption if part of the residence is rented out or used for other purposes, such as a home business,” Rodgers said. “And the
‘A property owner can still quality for the homestead exemption if part of the residence is rented out or used for other purposes, such as a home business. And the home will not lose its exemption if the owner moves away temporarily so long as he or she intends to return and doesn’t claim another homestead exemption elsewhere.’
— Lynn Rodgers Comal Appraisal District
home will not lose its exemption if the owner moves away temporarily, so long as he or she intends to return and doesn’t claim another homestead exemption elsewhere.”
Texas law provides several types of homestead exemptions. For school purposes, there is a $5,000 general homestead exemption to all homeowners and an additional $10,000 exemption to those 65 or
older or disabled.
The school tax exemption for those 65 or older provides a special property tax “ceiling” for school taxes. While the market value of an elderly person’s home may fluctuate with the market, the school taxes cannot increase above the tax amount in the first year that person qualified for the exemption.
The ceiling can increase, however,
if the owner adds an improvement, other than normal maintenance or repair. When that happens, the new improvement is taxes at its current market value and the current tax rates. The new taxes are added to the previous tax ceiling to create a new ceiling.
If an elderly homeowner dies, the surviving spouse may apply to keep the tax ceiling if the spouse was at least 55 years of age when the older spouse died.
The ceiling does not apply to taxes levied by the county, city or other taxing units.
“An elderly homeowner who has not previously received the over-65 exemption must apply for the exemption before April 30,” Rodgers stressed. To qualify, the homeowner must be 65 or older on Jan. 1,1997.
Counties must offer a $3,000 general homestead exemption on the portion of the county tax levied for farm-to-market roads or flood control.
Any taxing unit’s governing body
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
For more information, homeowners may contact the Comal Appraisal District at 178 E. Mill St., Suite 101, New Braunfels.
may grant an additfonal optional exemption on the homesteads of disabled or elderly residents, or both.
Taxing units may also offer a local-option homestead exemption based on a percentage of a home’s appraised value. In 1997, any taxing unit can exempt up to 20 percent of the value of each qualified homestead. No matter what percentage the taxing unit adopts, the dollar amount for any homestead exemption must be at least $5,000.
Percentage homestead exemptions are granted by Comal Independent School District at 20 percent, Comal County at 20 percent, and the City of New Braunfels at 20 percent.
Corps reduces outflow from Canyon Lake
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began a gradual reduction of the Canyon Reservoir release rate Wednesday horn 5,000 cubic feet per second to approximately 700 cfs. Corps officials expect the 700 cfs rate to be in effect late today, continue through the weekend, and be re-evaluated Monday based on current weather and river conditions.
Under the Canyon Reservoir management plan, water from rainfall and other storm events that accumulates in the “flood pool” at elevations above 909 feet above mean sea level is the responsibility of the Corps, and is released as required by its operating procedures. At reservoir levels above 911 feet msl, the Corps may set the release rate as high as 5,000 cfs, depending on downstream river conditions.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, Canyon Reservoir elevation was 911.78 feet msl and the inflow at Spring Branch was 1,019 cfs.
“Area media, elected officials and
river outfitters are immediately notified of changes in reservoir releases,” said Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority General Manager Bill West. “The public is advised to always exercise caution any time they are engaged in water recreation activities.”
GBRA is responsible for releasing water from the “conservation pool” at or below 909 feet msl, and manages the conservation storage portion of the reservoir under a permit issued by the Texas Water Commission, now a part of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.
The release rate from Canyon Reservoir is based upon several factors including licensed flows for the project, senior water rights and contract releases out of storage that are committed to cities, industries and other downstream users.
(Submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Guadupe-Blanco River AuthorityJ
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