The mailing of property appraisal notices by the Hood Central Appraisal District was a gut punch for pretty much everybody, including the Granbury Independent School District.
About 44,000 notices hit mailboxes during the early voting period for the May 7 election. GISD had two ambitious bonds totaling $394 million on that ballot, and they would have added 20 cents per $100 valuation to the district’s property tax rate. Both measures failed by wide margins.
Appraisals were a factor, judging from social media posts.
“Why do they need a bond when the tax authority raises taxes every year?” one man commented in a post about the leap in property values. “My taxes have doubled in the last five years!”
Those with homestead exemptions will see some relief, thanks to a proposition that was on that same ballot and passed overwhelmingly by voters across the state. The homestead reduction for school districts was increased to $40,000 from $25,000.
Property owners in Hood County have until June 1 to file a protest with the Hood Central Appraisal District, but the fact is, property values in regions across the state went up 20%-50% since last year. The reason is because Texas is experiencing historic growth.
According to a 2018 study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas has the highest retention rate of any state with 82% of natives continuing to call the Lone Star State home. According to that bank, 3,800 more people move into Texas every week than move out. Those numbers might even be higher now.
Alvin Lankford, president of the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts, said the organization has never seen the state’s real estate market grow this fast.
HCAD Chief Appraiser Eddie Roe said that in 2017, 62 homes in Hood County were appraised at $1 million or more. Today, that number stands at 650.
“That’s not a typo,” he wrote in an email to the Hood County News.
Roe said that residential appraisals increased about 30% overall from certified 2021 values to 2022 preliminary values. Commercial appraisals increased about 25% overall from certified 2021 values to 2022 preliminary values, he said.
HCAD usually mails appraisal notices between April 15 and May 1. The notices list the property’s newly assessed market value and how much tax the owner may owe based on the same tax rate the taxing units charged the previous year. Property taxes are due by the end of January each year.
City, county and school district governing bodies will soon begin summer budget preparations for the new fiscal year that will begin Oct. 1. Any lowered property tax rates will be reflected in the new statements the HCAD mails in November.
At $1.0888 per $100 valuation, the GISD’s tax rate is the highest among the county’s taxing entities. Superintendent Jeremy Glenn indicated that the rate might be reduced.
“As we have done the last six years, Granbury ISD Board of Trustees will very likely lower the school tax rate in August when adopting the budget,” Glenn stated in an email to the HCN. “Rising property values allow our school district to capture additional revenue which is used to pay down debt. Granbury ISD is pleased to have one of the lowest school tax rates in the region.”
The county’s property tax rate is currently $0.420345 per $100 valuation. County Auditor Becky Kidd said that although the county is challenged due to rising inflation, needed expenditures, new employees being added to the payroll, and meeting the needs of the public, she intends to encourage the Commissioners Court to lower the property tax rate. The court has lowered it for the past two years.
Granbury City Manager Chris Coffman commented that the city’s current rate of $0.386965 per $100 valuation will likely be lowered, but that remains to be seen.
“The appraisal values have increased overall, and the detail of those increases are yet to be provided, so at this time we are unable to clearly develop the revenue portion of the budget,” he stated. “However, I am confident the tax rate will decrease. It is just premature to make any assumptions without the necessary details of the appraisals.”
HOW TO PROTEST
According to Roe, the HCAD attempts to resolve issues so that an Appraisal Review Board hearing won’t be necessary.
Those who received a notice about their property appraisal should have received along with it a copy of Form 50-132, which is a Notice of Protest.
However, any written notice is permissible as long as it identifies the owner and the property in question and gives specifics as to what is being disputed. This helps the appraiser conduct appropriate research and also helps the ARB.
After sending in the form or other written notice, property owners should contact the HCAD office to speak with an appraiser. According to Roe, sometimes an informal settlement can be reached quickly and efficiently.
Those who opt for an informal conference should provide the HCAD with contact information that includes a phone number and email address. They should also include their opinion of value on the protest form and include any evidence to be considered so that staff can review that evidence.
Examples of evidence include a closing/settlement statement from a recent purchase; a fee appraisal from a recent refinance; an inspection report; repair estimates; photographs; a market analysis from a realtor; and any other information that might be valuable.
Before the ARB hearing date, an appraiser will attempt to contact the protestor by phone or email. In-person meetings are only available in special circumstances and require an appointment.
Those who appear before the ARB should bring or have mailed in as an affidavit five copies of each piece of evidence they plan to present. They should provide documentation that supports their market value position.
“Last year at this time, we had about 300 protests already filed,” Roe told the HCN in an email sent Tuesday afternoon. “At the time of this email, we have about 600 filed and I’m sure plenty (are) still in the hands of the post office.”
He added, “It’s going to be a long summer for everyone. Luckily the homestead reduction from 25k to 40k did pass, but we do realize this is little relief compared to what the market is doing.”