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Appraisal district reacts to slump

By Stephanie Parker

The Central Appraisal District (CAD) of Bandera County retained its board of directors during a Tuesday, Jan. 20 meeting, leaving Ray Barton as chairman, Bob Tomasini as vice chairman and Gary Johnston as secretary. Other board members include Randy MacNaughton, Fidel Ramirez, Tom Beer and Mae Vion Meyer.

Bandera County Chief Appraiser Ed Barnes told the board that appraisal schedules on homes had not been raised in 2008 because of a sales slump in the real estate market. He added, “It’s too early to say exactly what we are going to do in 2009. We haven’t studied sales yet. But it is possible that we will not raise schedules on houses again this year unless they have been improved or unless they are in areas that had not been re-appraised before.”

Barnes said that CAD met the state goal of appraising properties at close to 100 percent of their value in 2006 and 2007, ensuring that local school districts receive full funding from the state. If the state audits an appraisal board and determines that they have valued property at less than 95 to 100 percent of its market value, the appraisal district is allowed a two-year grace period to bring those evaluations up or face the loss of state funding for local school districts.

Barnes noted that while CAD’s goal will always be to fall within the 5 percent mark, meeting that goal in 2006 and 2007 puts Bandera County in a two-year grace period where no adverse action can be taken against them if they fall below the mark.

“This year gives us an opportunity to equalize our tax rolls without impacting a lot of people,” he told the board. Most individuals won’t see any big increase in their property value.”

He added that if subdivisions in the county like Bridlegate lower their sales prices, the appraisal district must respond to the falling market values.

Meanwhile, people from other states continue their move to Texas. Representatives from Bandera title companies said their business, both in re-finance and in new sales, is holding steady.
Before adjourning their regular January meeting, CAD members accepted a biennial reappraisal plan that provided a plan for identifying properties that needed physical inspection prior to reappraisal. The plan identifies market areas and characteristics that affect property value in each market area.

Barnes drafted the document. He said that while the Texas Comptroller’s Office demands that appraisal districts set appraisals at between 95 to 100 percent of their market value, the comptroller does not provide a template to help local appraisal districts draft written plans. He said he took templates from other counties and “molded them” into a document that would satisfy the State Comptroller’s Office and give Bandera CAD a list of important calendar dates to meet.