County Appraisal District Chaos?
If you are a property owner in Texas, you were probably thrilled last November to vote in the constitutional amendment election to reduce your property tax liability and to increase the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000. Given the unprecedented increases in property values across most of the state over the last several years, you ticked the box on the ballot that would provide some monetary relief, because the homestead exemption increase more than doubled how much of your homestead property value is untaxable.
If you are a business property owner, you may have also been excited to see that commercial, mineral and residential properties without a homestead exemption, such as rental properties and apartments, with an appraised value of less than $5 million dollars, now have a 20% cap per year on taxable value increases for the next three years. Well, you were excited until you realized that few properties ever exceed that cap anyway.
What you may not have noticed was that the ballot measure had another provision that is causing some handwringing and consternation amongst county officials: now, county appraisal districts (CADs) in counties with populations of 75,000 or more must elect three new members to their board of directors this May. Prior to Senate Bill 2 (SB 2), otherwise known as Proposition 4 on the November ballot, all county appraisal district board members were appointed by the taxing entity. SB 2 now requires that those counties be governed by a board of nine directors, five of which are appointed, one is the county tax assessor-collector and the remaining three must be elected by majority vote.
Appointed board members will serve staggered four-year terms beginning on January 1st of every other even-numbered year. Elected board members will serve staggered four-year terms beginning on January 1st of every other odd-numbered year.
This has created a number of difficulties for CAD officials:
- CADs need to decide which board members will have to step down to make room for the soon-to-be newly elected board members in the May general election.
- Texas law precludes elected officials from serving in more than one office, so such individuals can not run for open CAD board positions. Elected officials often serve in these volunteer roles and they will no longer be able to contribute their expertise and knowledge to the CAD boards.
- CADs must figure out how to pay for these elections, and they are costly.
Once the CADs and county election administrators get these things sorted, it remains to be seen what impact elected officials will have on the formerly nonpartisan CAD boards. Your CAD Board does not determine your property values, so it is unclear what the intended impact of the shift to elected board members was in the first place. That said, the CAD board appoints a separate appraisal review board for each appraisal district which is responsible for hearing tax appraisal protests, and they do have authority to adjust property values. It will be interesting to see if this change has an impact on property valuations over time.
Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice.