Appeals of property values in Kaufman County have been made to the Texas comptroller’s office after the state hit the county with proposed increased values, based on recent sales.

The Kaufman County Appraisal District appealed values for the Terrell and Crandall school districts, while the remaining districts – except Forney – have retained legal counsel for their appeals.

Chief Appraiser Chris Peace said the district will await a response from the comptroller’s office and scheduling of informal meetings, possibly in May.

In a memo to the KCAD board, Peace said, “The sales are what drives and influences the market and suggest the changes relevant to such changes in areas. The issues suggested in this study is an indication of our market outside of our metro growth areas.”

School district values have to be within five percent of the state study, or they can suffer financial consequences.

Peace noted that 2017 property values in the county rose 18 percent in the western part of the county, which experienced significant growth, and graduated down moving eastward to eight percent.

But the state said the county’s values should have risen by much larger amounts, based on sales it examined.

“Our job now is for making sure these numbers are accurate and relevant for 2018 and 2019 and future years,” he said.  “These procedures, steps, training will be implemented and reviewed so as to make sure of compliance.”

The county underwent a similar situation in 2015, but only Forney’s values were out of compliance. 

KCAD was able to get values for the fast-growing district back in line the following year. This time Forney was the lone district that met the standard.

But this time the process will not be the same, Peace explained.

Mass appraisals on new construction can be applied, but this time “we do not have the homogenous growth,” Peace said, so mass appraisal techniques will not work.

He said that in some areas, the KCAD may have to look almost down to the block level.

Part of what is driving the higher values is the county’s proximity to the Metroplex, where home-value increases have been among the highest in the nation.

Some properties have been selling sight unseen, Peace said, and drawing list price with little negotiation.

The comptroller’s study will have a major negative impact on state funding for school districts until values are back in line.

Peace said KCAD will have values correct for 2018. That means even more increases in property values, and the push back from that will be even more protests by owners.

KCAD also has to be careful not to go too far in the other direction, Peace noted. Districts can also be impacted when property values are set too high.

Peace said that he has spent time learning about a similar situation that developed in Tarrant Count, which went through the same circumstance two years ago with every school district in the county out of compliance except one.

He has also consulted with chief appraisers in several surrounding counties.

He noted that for homeowners, assessed tax valuations may not rise more than 10 percent in a year. And tax bills for those 65 and over or disabled are frozen.

Peace said he is hopeful that the county will receive some concessions from the appeals, but does not know how significant that could be.

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