When Somervell County business owner Mike Jones took a look or three at his property tax market value assessment notice in February, he felt he had to object.
His only path to make his feelings known was to file a protest with the Somervell County Central Appraisal District (CAD).
Jones has been owner/operator of Glen Rose Veterinary Clinic for 33 years. It’s just one of many businesses on U.S. Highway 67 that appear to be facing significant property tax increases that could lead them to raise the costs of their goods and services, according to Jones.
“Over 45 businesses had their property values raised by an average of 37 percent,” said Jones, who recently served out his second stint as a member of the Glen Rose City Council. “We all want a healthy business. I just knew it was wrong. It just seemed really outrageous. The CAD seems to be out of control.”
Jones said the property value assessed on his one-quarter acre of land at 1404 NE Big Bend Trail leaped from about $24,000 to $54,000. That resulted in Jones being assessed about $600 more than the previous year.
“I got about a 125 percent raise, to bring it up to the $4.50 per square foot (from $2 per square foot),” Jones said.
Jones sent in a protest letter online before the deadline, and now must wait for a chance for his appeal to be heard by the CAD.
“The issue I had was, they used ‘comps,’” from the year 2010, Jones said.
He said the comps are “comparable” property values for sales of comparable lots in nearby locations. But, Jones said, “There wasn’t a precedent to go back to 2010.”
Wes Rollen, the Somervell County CAD’s chief appraiser, told the Glen Rose Reporter that the formula used here is no different than those used across the state of Texas.
“We used current (property) sales, as well as historical (figures),” said Rollen, who has held that position here for 10 years. “We’re not doing anything different than any other appraisal district in the state. We’re using the most current sales we have. It’s pretty common-sense stuff.
“Of all the properties we had along 67, we’ve only had four protests. And only two of those have come to a hearing.”
Jones is awaiting his shot to present his arguments at an Appraisal Review Board meeting.
Rollen, meanwhile, said the last time he saw a list of state tax rates, Somervell County ranked as the eighth-lowest rate in Texas.
Jones said the Holiday Inn property value assessment soared from $2.56 million to $3.59 million.
“That will cost Holiday Inn an extra $2,000 a year to pay those taxes,” Jones said. “There aren’t enough weeks in the year to make up that kind of money. They also changed LaQuinta to an extra $1 million. It effects everybody that uses services up and down 67.”
Jones said that Sonic is seeing a 37 percent increase, from $247,000 to $339,000 this year.
Jones said the Texas Constitution and the Property Tax Bill of Rights state that “all property must be taxed equally and uniformly,” but noted, “Most of the residential areas didn’t go up,” and most of the business property taxes raised were in addresses east of Pronto’s convenience store, rather than on the west end of Highway 67.
“It essentially raises their taxes around $600, and that causes them to raise costs,” said Jones, who previously has served one term on the Glen Rose ISD Board of Trustees. “People will not stay the night (in hotels), and the actual income to the city will actually drop.”
Rollen added, “There are a lot of factors that go into every appraisal we do. Generally speaking, if we made a major error, the majority of a subdivision’s going to protest.”
Two other local owners of businesses that are on Highway 67 declined to comment on the record for this article, but Jones said he will still fight for them anyway.
“Most business owners don’t pay attention. Most property owners don’t pay attention — and they don’t know how to protest,” Jones said.
“We’ve worked so hard to bring people to Glen Rose, and then we have an entity that turns around and sabotages all that — that being the CAD. I’m extremely disappointed (with) the insensitivity the CAD has for every citizen of Glen Rose. Thank God there’s an appeal process.”
Rollen said the date for the Appraisal Review Board meeting with Jones has not been set.
“That’s one of the things we try to do, is accommodate people,” Rollen said. “I would assume it will probably be some time in October. The law gives him an opportunity to reschedule.”
Looking ahead to next year, Jones added, “What I would look for next year is to go to the CAD office and protest collectively.”