Chief Appraiser explains why property taxes increasedFree Access

Christelle Troell

Staff Writer

While county residents are still in a state of disbelief after receiving their county’s appraisal notices, the county appraisal district’s chief appraiser, Michelle Cardenas, met with the Pleasanton Express to shed some light on how this increase came about.

In 2015, she related, the Comptroller’s Office did a study of all independent school districts and looked at sales data, including residential and homes on acreage, farms and ranches.  In 2015 “we were sitting pretty good,” she said.

Between 2015 and 2017, however, the market value went from 98% to 74% in one category – houses; and from 94% to 60% on farms and ranches.

Properties are selling for larger amounts than the value set by the appraisal district. The problem is the district has NO access to multiple listing services; therefore the sales data the district did receive was all they had in order to set values in 2017.

The State Comptroller’s Office got access to Atascosa County sales for a 2017 study and those sales indicated the appraisal district is below market value.

“Our district failed a property value study in five school districts,” she stated. The district has a total of seven, so only two passed.

Again, the problem the district has is that its data is limited. Real estate companies are reluctant to share their data. When it is requested, only a small amount of sales are reported and very few respond.

She explained that state law mandates that property be appraised at 100 percent of market value. After appraisal, values are certified following appeals.

The certified values are given to local taxing jurisdictions who then compare the values against their budgets. The entities (not Appraisal District) set the tax rate, determining how much they need to run that entity.

That’s where the tax is generated, she explained, NOT at the county appraisal district.

What people list and sell property for drives the market. Lots of people are moving to this area from San Antonio. The area is growing by leaps and bounds. The growth is not because of oil activity, she added.

Two large tracts are now being developed in Lytle, for example. “The growth has to go somewhere,” she explained.

Mobile homes are a big part of the growth. Families can’t afford to buy regular homes they are too expensive. Mobile homes are selling for $150,000 – $200,000. There is a strong mobile home market in Atascosa County, she noted.

Texas, she added, is one of about six states that doesn’t have a state income tax. Some states have both state and property taxes. “We are unique.”

Exemptions

The public is urged to pay attention that their exemptions are in place. If not, they should come by the appraisal office and apply.

Deadlines to protest appraisals are: June 8 – Real property (Home farm, ranch, commercial buildings);  June 22 – Business personal property. Hearings begin June 4 as noted on your appraisal notice.

Again, she emphasized that the Board of Directors has NO authority over property evaluations, nor do the taxing jurisdictions. They are mandated by the State Tax Code which the district has to follow

“We get a lot of flack,” she noted.

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