In an attempt to lower Property Taxes for local residents

Paint Rock ISD is appealing Texas Comptroller’s Property Assessment

The Paint Rock Independent School District has filed an appeal with the Texas Comptroller’s Office contending that the State of Texas assessed the values of properties within the Paint Rock Independent School District too high compared to the actual “market values” of those properties.

Per Texas state law, property is supposed to be assessed at “market value”, which basically means what it will sell for.  The amount of an individual’s property tax bill is equal to the amount of the local taxing entities “tax rate” times the value of their “property assessment”.  For example, the PRISD tax rate is $1.44 per $100 valuation.  The PRISD has not increased this “tax rate” in nearly 8 years.  So, a $100,000 home inside the PRISD boundaries (that does not have a veterans or homestead exemption) would pay $1,440 a year is PRISD school taxes.  A $50,000 home would pay $720 a year in PRISD school taxes.

In 2016, the local Concho County Appraisal District (CCAD) assessed the values of all property within the PRISD boundaries at $73,496,690.  However, the Texas Comptroller’s Office in 2016 valued that same land at $86,471,908.  The $13 million difference is of major concern to the schools, taxing entities, and tax payers of northern Concho County.  It is however, an improvement over the gap that also existed in 2014 and 2015.  However, the Comptroller’s Office and Texas Education Agency gave a reprieve to PRISD for those years, just as they also gave one to Eden CISD.  PRISD has asked for a reprieve for 2016 as well but so far those appeals have gone unsuccessful.

The State is saying that local property assessments should be increased, so that the figure generated by the Concho County Appraisal District (CCAD) becomes similar or nearly equal to that of the Texas Comptroller’s Office.  If the State’s figure is correct and/or the State’s opinion wins out, then local appraised land values must be increased significantly over a short period.  This will mean significant increases in property valuations and corresponding increases in the overall tax payments local taxpayers must make.  Although by state law, a person with a homestead exemption can only have their property valuations increased by ten percent a year.  It also means that even though Paint Rock ISD has not raised its tax rate in nearly 8 years, many who don’t understand how property taxes are generated will blame their higher tax bill on the school district.  It also means that the school district will not receive the funds it should be receiving per the Comptroller’s Office.  Much more importantly though, the Texas Education Agency will punish the school district by taking away some of the matching funds PRISD receives from the State of Texas because the local property tax assessments (Concho County Appraisal District figures) are not within five to ten percentage points of the figures generated by the Texas Comptroller’s Office.  PRISD has no say in the generated or assessment of any of these properties but is punished financially as if it did have a say in generating them.  PRISD has not increased its tax rate in nearly 8 years and has no role in assessing property or setting land values, yet it will be punished because someone in Austin deems that PRISD taxpayers are “not paying their fair share”.

What PRISD can, and has done though, is appeal the Property Value Assessment that the Texas Comptroller’s Office has put together.  In early 2015, PRISD in coordination with the CCAD signed the paperwork to appeal the 2014 Property Valuations, but the CCAD Chief Appraiser summited the completed paperwork one day too late and the Texas Comptroller’s Office denied the appeal for “timeliness”. 

In early 2016, PRISD again signed the paperwork to submit an appeal to the Texas Comptroller’s Office PVS for 2015.  The appeal was again through the CCAD, but the than different Chief Appraiser decided not to submit the appeal to the Comptroller’s Office.  PRISD was not told of this decision until after the appeal deadline. 

Shortly after, in the Spring of 2016, PRISD’s Board of Trustees made the unanimous move to hire the law firm of Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins, & Mott, LLP who have a successful record of appealing and winning such cases.  They work on a contingency basis and don’t get paid unless they are successful. 

In the Fall of 2016, the CCAD hired new administrative personnel who have worked closely and professionally with both PRISD and its attorneys. 

In the Spring of 2017, Eden CISD hired the same law firm as PRISD to file their appeal.

The Comptroller’s Office received the PRISD appeal on March 13, 2017, before the deadline.  The appeal is in a full 2-inch binder and available for review in the PRISD Superintendent’s Office.  The document is also available in the CCAD office as personnel there were extremely helpful in helping the district and its attorneys collect data for the latest PRISD appeal.  PRISD would like to thank them for their help and assistance.

The appeal reviews each and every property selected by the Comptroller’s Office for their Property Value Study (PVS) and explains why their figures are too high.  Did the latest sale include more than just the land and house?  Animals and tractors that conveyed in the sale should not have been counted.  Is the property valued too high?  Is a lot here valued as high as a similar sized lot in another county in the State?  Is the building livable?  Is it usable?  Has the well run dry?  If the well’s not dry now, but was two years ago, will it sell for as much as it was appraised for?  Could the property actually sell for the value assigned to it?  Is the house/trailer still there?  What shape is it in? The appeal looks at all those factors and many more.  Seldom does the appeal value match that of the Comptroller’s Office, yet it doesn’t always come down as low as the CCAD assessed value either.

PRISD officials are expecting to hear the outcome of their appeal of the Texas Comptroller’s Office Property Valuation Study for 2016 before the end of the month.  It is very unlikely that the Texas Comptroller’s Office will bring their figures all the way down $13 million to that of the CCAD.   However, each dollar that the Comptroller’s Office comes down means that local property valuations will not have to go up (or up as much) to meet the requirements of the Texas Comptroller’s Office.  The more the appeal brings down Comptroller’s figure, the better chance PRISD has of receiving more needed matching state funds.  Currently, PRISD gets over $2 in state matching funds for every $1 dollar it receives in local property taxes.  A successful appeal by PRISD means saving money for local PRISD and Concho County taxpayers.    

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