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County valuations continue to increase

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Wendy Grams, chief appraiser for the Central Appraisal District of Bandera County, addressed commissioners during a Thursday, August 11, meeting. At that time, she spoke to the court about the district’s 2016 certified appraisal roll and presented the 2017 CAD budget.
In 2016, the certified taxable value of property in Bandera County is $2,061,566,326 of which 37 properties remain under protest. According to CAD, the total taxable value of protested property is $3,490,140; however, collective property owners feel the property under protest should be valued at $2,966,619 – hence the protest.
“We sent out 14,000 notices and had 2,100 protests of which 1,600 were settled informally,” Grams said. “The ARB (Appraisal Review Board) acted on 67 cases. In July, less than one quarter of 1 percent of the valuations remain under protest.”
Grams assured commissioners that they would receive a supplemental roll with the additional values after the ARB completes its hearings. Property owners who protest the appraised valuations of their holdings are always advised to schedule a hearing with the ARB.
As examples of the increased value of property within the county, in 2012 the certified market value was $3,528,069,030. In 2014, it had jumped to $3,789,970,570. This year, the market value reached $4,067,782,742.
The breakdown of the certified market value includes:
• Ag qualified rural land - $1,732,377,511, 43 percent of total
• Rural land without ag qualifications - $969,679,541, 24 percent
• Residential - $790,462,239, 19 percent
• Other - $363,259,420, 9 percent
• Commercial and BPP - $176,198,661, 4 percent
• Mineral and utility - $35,805,370, 1 percent
For the record, a so-called “agriculture exemption” is actually a special valuation. The tax savings that a property receives depends on the current market value of the property and what type of Ag Valuation is requested. For example, native pasture areas can have a lower Ag valuation than dry crop areas. Generally, both are lower than the market value on which the taxes would normally be based.
Questions are always asked regarding the number of acres necessary to apply for a special valuation. According to CAD’s website, Bandera County’s diverse range of soil types require more acreage in some areas than in others to produce the same amount of product. Therefore, the typical minimum acreage is 20 acres, depending on the soil type.
Additionally, Bandera County requires a minimum of three animals for a property to qualify for the Ag Valuation.
To receive a Wildlife Valuation, the property must currently be under Ag Valuation and a five- year Wildlife Management Plan provided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department must be filed. More information on these special valuations can be found under “FAQ” at bancad.org.
Open space currently under special valuations amounts to 286,800 acres in traditional Ag and 141,255 acres in wildlife management.
New taxable value in 2016 in the county amounts to $47,499,145, which is mostly new residential construction, according to Grams. Interestingly, the new taxable value has climbed steadily since 2012 except for an over $7.86 million decrease in 2013. However, between 2014 and 2015, the amount of new taxable value jumped by $7.76 million.
In 2016, the average homestead market value is $166,781 – up from $163,324 last year. This jump was due, in part, to home construction in the tony subdivision of Bridlegate.
The adopted budget for CAD for 2017 is $950,823 of which 56 percent is payroll, with an additional 11 percent in payroll-related expenses, amounting to $533,241 of the total budget. As Grams explained, “We now have six appraisers on the staff. Two have more than 20 years experience; two with more than 10 years; and two with more than six years in the field.”
The CAD’s 10 percent for database maintenance amounted to $92,000. Grams told the court that $80,000 of the total covered a new tool in the CAD’s arsenal – pictometry, aerial flyovers by 12 planes equipped with special cameras. She predicted that the use of pictometry would substantially increase collected revenues.
“With this innovation, we are no long dependent of access to private properties to update our valuations,” Grams explained. “This will be especially helpful in the western end of the county.”
According to Wikipedia, Pictometry®, a patented aerial image-capture process, produces imagery showing the fronts and sides of buildings and locations on the ground.
Images are captured by low-flying airplanes, depicting up to 12 oblique perspectives, shot from a 40º angle, as well as an overhead view of every location flown.
These perspectives can be stitched together to create composite aerial maps that seamlessly span many miles of terrain. Pictometry necessitates special software and algorithms to determine accurately the size and position of objects on the maps.
Grams said CAD’s pictometry images could also be used by the sheriff’s office and road and bridge department at no cost.