State review results in property value increases
By LPR Staff
While Central Texans struggle with a sagging economy and dwindling job prospects, another concern is raising its head for Caldwell County property owners. A recent review of county property values by the State of Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’ Property Tax Division revealed many Caldwell County property values to be o
ut of compliance with state standards.
“The annual property value study is the appraisal districts’ report card from the state,” Chief Appraiser Carlton Pape said on Monday. “And this year, the Caldwell County did not pass.”
Pape said continued failure to comply with state standards for property values could result in a decrease in funding to area school districts. This decrease could affect the Lockhart and Luling districts, while the Prairie Lea area, he said, was in compliance.
“The first time we fail a property value review, the State puts the school districts in a ‘probationary period’ of sorts,” he said. “They give us another year to adjust the values. But if we don’t get the values adjusted to the level where the State believes they should be, it could have bigger and more lasting effects.”
Those consequences, Pape said, could result not only in decreased funding, but also in a state takeover of the noncompliant appraisal district.
The Caldwell County Appraisal District has filed an appeal of the report’s findings.
Pape suggested the state standards for Caldwell County might be impacted by the growth and property values in the surrounding counties – realities that are not necessarily accurate within Caldwell County.
“I think because we’re in the same geographical area, the State thinks our values should be similar to Hays, Bastrop and Travis Counties,” he said. “But there are different things happening in those counties that aren’t happening here.”
Nonetheless, Pape said, many property owners will see their property values increase this spring as the CCAD determines property values.
“We are in the process of doing a property value review of our own,” he said. “We aren’t going to go by the state standards in doing that. But what we do need to do is get our values inside the ‘confidence interval’ set by the state formula.”
That confidence interval allows for an appraisal district’s average values to be within 5 percent higher or lower than the state standards.
“It is both fair and appropriate to say that most property owners will see adjustments to their values this year,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the Texas Code doesn’t say there are different rules for tough economic times,” Pape said.
In the coming weeks, property owners will be notified of their property values for the coming tax year. It is the right of any property owner, Pape said, to appeal those values and ask the appraisal district for an appraisal review.
For more information about appraised value adjustments, contact the Caldwell County Appraisal District at (512) 398-5550.