Reappraisal notices hit Crossroads
May 14, 2013 at 12:14 a.m.
Updated May 15, 2013 at 12:15 a.m.
Lanell Mantey opened her mailbox just about a week ago to find an unwelcome - yet not entirely unexpected - envelope waiting inside.
Her property reappraisal had arrived, and her one-story home in Castle Hills West had upped in value.
"My house went up $12,000 this year. It went up $10,000 last year," said Mantey, who said she's lived in the home for two years. "This is a concern, especially if you're not looking to sell your home."
Mantey isn't the only one in the Crossroads seeing change.
The Victoria Central Appraisal District sent out about 32,000 real estate reappraisal notices to Victoria County residents earlier this month, said Chief Appraiser John Haliburton. That's up from last year's approximately 19,000.
Notices only go out to new property owners or those whose property values increased or decreased by $1,000 or more.
Haliburton attributed the increase in notices to the regional housing market, explaining that, when the market is up, valuations follow.
In recent months, Crossroads Realtors have called low inventory - homes available for purchase - at a time Victoria is growing, and new people are moving in.
"It's all supply and demand," Haliburton said.
Calhoun County reappraisals remained about on par with last year's, said Jerry Daum, the organization's chief appraiser. About 5,000 residential and commercial notices went out in mid-April.
About 50 percent of Calhoun County's value is industrial, he said, and even if industrial parcels' values increase, it doesn't necessarily mean homes will follow suit.
E.J. Bammert, interim chief appraiser with the Goliad County Appraisal District, said about 700 real property notices will go out to county residents within the next day or so.
He was not in the office last year, he said, and did not know 2012's numbers. Still, the appraisal district did not make any changes in land or home schedules, so the only people receiving notices are those who purchased new property in Goliad County, built a new home or made improvements on their current one.
Marie Day is chairwoman of Lavaca County Taxpayers, an organization aimed at educating the public about tax-related issues and bringing change.
She said she keeps close tabs on appraisal districts but questions the vague answers they offer regarding valuations.
"We for so long have accepted that it's based on market value," she said. "But give me the facts, give me the numbers and tell me where it got raised."
Day said she has spoken with Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, about pushing for a requirement that appraisal values include the property's appraisal card, which lists every item used to calculate values, when mailing out notices.
Until then, property owners must make that request on their own.
She pulled her card for the first time several years ago and discovered that, while she was being charged for a neighborhood code, no property adjacent to her 54 acres had that code. She requested it be removed, she said, and it lowered her taxes.
"I encourage each and every individual to go to their appraisal district and make this request: 'I need a copy of my appraisal card and a copy of every table used to calculate my appraisal card,'" she said.
Property owners also have a specified time frame to approach their appraisal district and protest their home's appraised value. Victoria County's protest deadline is June 3.
Rawley McCoy, who owns Victoria architectural firm Rawley McCoy & Associates, said Tuesday morning that while while no one enjoys taxes, the increases indicate Victoria is growing.
"My personal opinion is I don't mind paying taxes if they're reinvested into the community to make this a better place to live," he said at the Victoria Economic Development Corp.'s Victoria Partnership meeting.
John Clegg, at that same meeting, said he's always found appraised values to be relatively accurate and monitoring systems are in place.
About five years ago, he said, a state appraiser visited his property to audit his appraised value.
"Once they were done, I asked what they thought, and they said it right on the mark," the Victoria business owner said. "So they are out there, checking."
Councilman Paul Polasek offered a way for residents to do their own checks.
He said he sometimes watches the real estate listings on TV, inputting addresses into the appraisal district site as properties scroll by. He then compares values.
"They're usually right on the money," he told the Victoria Partnership crowd. "There are anomalies but not because anyone is getting special treatment. Because some properties are more difficult to assess."
As for Mantey, executive director of Victoria Business and Education Coalition, she said her new valuation creates problems.
The single mom said she plans her budget to meet with those annual taxes. Increases mean she has to reevaluate and cut back elsewhere.
She said she plans to protest - she does every year - and wouldn't complain if those increases were smaller.
Still, Mantey admitted, it could be worse.
"I'm more concerned for those whose values have just gone through the roof," she said. "I don't know how they do it."