Letter to the editor: Appraisal 'appeal’
I had the occasion to meet some new neighbors the other day. We all met at the Somervell County Appraisal office to offer our appeals to tax appraisal increases. I'm 60 years old, most of the folks waiting along with me were older than I, good folks with whom I enjoyed visiting.
In 2016 my bride and I bought our modest retirement home and enjoy life in Somervell County. Until we began to realize we are being taxed out of our home. A 31.42% increase in less than the five years doesn't seem reasonable. The folks in line waiting with me told me of similar stories, one even spoke of not making repairs in hopes the appraisal value wouldn't increase.
The first question asked by the Appraisal Board was, "Are you a certified appraiser?" No, I'm just a guy trying to live a peaceable life and be a good steward. The Board's professional appraiser then proffered a bit of "comparables" from which he arrived at our home value. I found it interesting that just a regular guy is expected to counter a professional appraiser, especially when the comparables weren't presented until at the hearing. Seems our nine acres are now worth at least $9,777 per acre, an increase of $54,170. Our 1,906 square foot home increased $35,940, all in just one year. Who knew?
I offered that Governor Abbott suggested local tax appraisal districts cut taxes, not raise them, this year. I was quickly rebuffed with statements of state law and how it was all out of the Board’s control. Curious how the Governor’s suggestions could have been followed for COVID shutdowns but not this.
I was quickly told to attend school board, hospital board and other taxing entities meetings and make my objections known. That I was questioning the appraisal, not the tax rate, seemed to draw a certain amount of ire. Ignoring me and talking among themselves that I had nothing to counter the professional appraisal, a quick vote and rubber stamp approval of the appraisal by the Board made short work of my appeal.
I believe the local Tax Appraiser, who chooses the Appeal Board members, can afford an appeal process that affords a regular guy recourse. The Somervell appraisers are responsible for the 31.42% increase, not Austin or the taxing entities. Somewhere in there I think the taxpayer, you and I, are overlooked.
Just a closing thought for the rest of my neighbors in Somervell County. Just how much taxation and governance does a county of less than 10,000 folks really need? At the rate of the appraisal increase I wonder if we can afford to live in the house we've worked all our lives for. I've been a Texan all my life and can't recall neighbors ever treating their neighbors like this. I think the good neighbors I met awaiting their turn before the Board would agree.
Travis Mott/Glen Rose