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Front Page July 21, 2015  RSS feed

Low attendance at meetings to explain increased property tax evaluations

By Sherry Matney

On June 15th the Leon County Central Appraisal District office released “Notices of Appraised Value” for Leon County. The office had completed a 2015 county wide re-appraisal for single family residents.

The appraisals, in general, reflected significant increases in property values and, foreseeing concerns by Leon County citizens, Chief Leon County Appraiser Jeff Beshears and his staff set up five open forum meet- ings throughout the county. The meetings were to assist the taxpayers in understanding the notice, the reappraisal process, available tax exemptions and taxpayers’ rights.

According to Beshears the meetings were very positive and his staff helped three individuals who were able to classify their place as homestead, thereby saving significantly on taxes. However, attendance at the meetings was lower than expected. Deputy Chief Appraiser Richard Williams said the meeting at Normangee on 7-2 had two attendees, Leon on 7-7 had six, Oakwood on 7-9 had seven, Centerville on 7-13 had ten and Buffalo on 7-14 had one who came to the meeting.

The re-appraisal was required to bring the value of county properties into State compliance. According to Williams, Leon County appraisals were 15 to 20% below the state average. While the Appraisal District does not tax properties, school and county taxes are based on property values.

Each year the appraisal districts’ values are audited by the State of Texas as per the annual Property Value Study. During the study, a State Field Appraiser(s) does a random analysis of numerous properties from each school district, and then compares their results with those of the work of the appraisal district. When compared, the local values have to be within 5% of those values estimated by the Property Tax Division of the State Comptroller’s office.

A combination of appraisals and sales analysis are utilized by the state in their determination. For the last three years (2012, 2013 and 2014) the state has proclaimed that the value of single family residences in Leon County have not met the statutory requirements of the Texas Property Tax Code.

Beshears and his staff have protested the states’ findings for each of the last three years but has been unsuccessful in overturning the Property Tax Divisions findings. The consequence of being out-of-compliance for three years results in a very harsh penalty for each school district. Depending on the range of discrepancy, the schools’ state funding is reduced.

School districts in the county have been notified that State funding has been cut due to the property values being out of compliance.

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