|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - May 2009
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Appraisal district protests Comptroller’s findings
Polk County Enterprise - May 2009
LIVINGSTON — Polk Central Appraisal District (CAD) and the county’s local school districts appealed the Texas Comptroller’s fi nding that Polk County homes were under appraised for tax year 2008. The comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division held that Polk CAD had an overall appraisal ratio on homes of only 81 percent of market value. The comptroller’s appraisal ratio fi ndings for Polk County school districts’ residential property for 2008 varied and were as follows: Onalaska Independent School District, 66 percent; Livingston ISD 73.9 percent; Leggett ISD, 79.41 percent; Goodrich ISD, 84.78 percent; Corrigan-Camden ISD, 83.75 percent; Chester ISD, 77.22 percent and Big Sandy ISD, 90 percent, according to a statement issued by Polk CAD Chief Appraiser Carolyn Allen.
The comptroller’s offi ce released 2008 preliminary fi ndings for Texas school district values Jan. 31, 2009, Allen said. The comptroller’s annual study measures the taxable value of property within school districts and tells appraisal districts how close they appraised property to the legally required 100 percent of market value. Schools and appraisal districts can appeal the preliminary fi ndings to point out any problems or inconsistencies. Local school districts are involved in the appeal because state school funding formulas use the comptroller’s results to determine property wealth and the amount of state funding distributed to all Texas school districts, Allen said. The comptroller’s offi ce will release its fi nal fi ndings in early July. The comptroller’s offi ce based the Polk County fi ndings on sales data received from the Multiple Listing Service and from letters completed by buyers and sellers of Polk County property and mailed it to the comptroller. The state study uses a sampling of properties for each school district, dividing the appraisal district’s values for those properties by the state’s market value, which resulted in the state’s ratio fi nding. Market value, in simple terms, is the price for which a property would sell under normal conditions. Tax code section 23.01 requires appraisal districts to appraise property at its market value. In appealing the state’s fi ndings, Allen provided additional sale information and pointed out errors. The Polk CAD hired the law fi rm of Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins and Mott to assist with the appeal. Goodrich ISD and Corrigan- Camden ISD, Livingston ISD and Onalaska ISD also hired the Perdue fi rm to represent them in the appeal process. The districts are awaiting the results from the appeal. If the comptroller’s fi ndings do not change for Livingston ISD, this school district could possibly lose up to $635,135 in state funding. Onalaska ISD will lose money in state funding. At this time the amount is undetermined.
Two of the Polk County school districts are in the state’s grace period, which is a two-year period that state funding is not directly affected by the Comptroller’s findings. The Comptroller’s findings also will result in appraisal standards review of Polk CAD operations. Allen said that Polk CAD based its 2008 home appraisals on sales data supplied by property owners. The CAD’s own ratio study showed that home values were overall closer to 100 percent of market value. Based on the CAD’s study of verified sales of verified sales during late 2007 and early 2008 for the Jan. 1, 2008 appraisal date, Allen found that residential schedules for 2008 did not require any changes and that land values changed only where necessary. For the 2009 tax year, however, Allen pointed out that Polk CAD will adjust its 2009 schedules of residential properties and neighborhoods in Polk County to appraise those properties at 100 percent of market value.
Polk County sales for the last months of 2008 and early 2009 indicate a higher market value than property sales in late 2007 and early 2008. Allen found that sales prices in Polk County have not declined as seen in other areas of the state. Based on current sales data, the appraisal district must adjust appraised values for tax year 2009. State law requires market value appraisals as of Jan 1 of the tax year. The comptroller’s office will study Polk CAD’s 2009 values late this fall for the next comptroller’s findings in January 2010. Owners of residential property in Polk County need to be aware that an increase in the 2009 appraised values will vary depending on neighborhood location, Allen said. Early information indicates that increases will range from 10 to 30 percent. Property owners should have received notices of appraised value in the mail from Polk CAD around May 1.
Owners who disagree with the appraised value are encouraged to contact the district for an appointment to meet with a district appraiser. Owners who have defects or damaged property must bring documentation and photos of the defects to their appointment. Owners who have recently purchased property for less than the appraised value shown on the appraisal notice should bring a copy of their closing statement. Written documentation is required for any adjustments. Polk CAD uses mass appraisal techniques as required by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, which state law requires districts to follow. A property owner must present documentation of defects to receive an adjustment on an individual property. Allen said that CAD staff will be available from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer questions and provide information. Polk CAD is located at 114 Matthews Street in Livingston. Their phone number is 936-327- 2174.