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35,000 Victoria property owners notified appraisals going up at least $1,000

By Melissa Crowe
May 8, 2014 at 12:08 a.m.
Updated May 9, 2014 at 12:09 a.m.

The Victoria County Appraisal District put about 35,000 notices in the mail this week for property owners whose residential or commercial values increased $1,000 or more.

Property owners have until midnight June 6 to protest their updated values, said Chief Appraiser John Haliburton.

In 2013, four protests ended in a lawsuit, according to the appraisal district's annual report.

In the county appraisal district's 2013 report, the total market value of property in Victoria County is about $8.15 billion, of which $184.1 million was new.

Haliburton would not say what the average increase is for 2014 or a range of increases.

"The totals have not been certified," he said. "They're preliminary and will change on a daily basis" based on protests.

There are 58,215 accounts in the county, and more than 35,000 have received notifications of value changes.

Protests go before a five-person review board made up of Jack Buttram, Jon Kinsey, Tom Henley, Robert Serrata and Sandra Strickland.

The district determines appraisals by looking at market value, income and cost, Haliburton said.

"We're charged by law to appraise at what a willing buyer and willing seller would exchange if they were to purchase a property," he said.

After the appraisals are certified, the taxing entities will approve their budgets and tax bills will be mailed by Oct. 1 or soon thereafter.

Mayor Paul Polasek said it's all part of the process.

"This is the time to let people know, so they can have time if they feel their values are inaccurate," he said.

Adding structures or making improvements to property can cause values to increase.

If a person purchased a house in 1969, it might have cost $30,000 but could be worth and appraised at $150,000 now.

"It's the same house, but you wouldn't sell it for $30,000," Haliburton said.

The appraisal district uses aerial photography to measure changes in a property's dimensions, which would effect its value.

Property owners who are 65 or older qualify for an exemption to have their taxes frozen.

"The value of their home can increase, but the amount of tax dollars they pay is frozen based on the year they turned 65 and the amount of taxes they paid that year," Haliburton said.

There is also a "homestead exemption," if someone lives on the property they own.

"We want everyone who is qualified for an exemption to take advantage of it," Haliburton said.

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