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Stories Added - February 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Hundreds of tax statements not mailed
San Jacinto News- Times - February 2009
COLDSPRING -- More than two months after property tax payments were due without penalty there are still about 600 property owners in San Jacinto County who have not received a tax statement for 2008. “That’s quite a few,” said San Jacinto County Chief Appraiser Clayton Adams. The problems, according to Adams, include an exemployee that Adams declines to discuss, late appraisal protests and computer software. Since property tax protests were still being heard in August the 2008 appraised values were certifi ed before the protest hearings were fi nalized, according to Adams. Once the appraised values were certifi ed they were sent to San Jacinto County Tax Assessor-Collector Betty Davis where the 2008 statements were prepared. According to Adams, the information he sent to Davis included information about property with changes made and still under protest so that those property owners could be given an estimated statement for 2008. “For some reason their (tax offi ce) computer software kicked out those with evaluation changes and she (Davis) was unable to work them,” Adams said. “The tax roll was certifi ed while property was still under protest and Davis did not have the information to generate the tax statements,” Adams said. “Those who called wanting to pay their taxes before the end of the year we provided them with an estimated statement. We did try to work with them,” Adams said. Adams claims the number of protests for 2008 were average compared to other years. “We had about 1,158 property owners fi le a protest with the San Jacinto County Appraisal Review Board,” Adams said. There are more than 40,000 property owners in the county. San Jacinto County property owner Jimmy Ray is among those who still do not have a tax statement for 2008. Ray’s tax protest hearing was held on Aug. 1, 2008. “I decided to accept the evaluation and close the case,” he said. Ray is upset because he will not be able to deduct his property tax payment from his 2008 federal income tax as a result and because he feels there is a lack of interest to fix the problem. “Tax Assessor Davis indicated that either the taxing entities had no knowledge or no interest of the problem. This seems to be unusual since all depend upon tax revenues for operating budgets,” Ray said. Although Ray said he discussed several things with Davis, Davis said she does not recall talking with him. Davis said property owners who have not received a tax statement yet will have 21 days to pay their 2008 taxes without penalty once the statement is received. “Others who received their statements on time had much longer to pay their taxes without penalty,” Ray said. “There seems to be knowledge of problems with and within the San Jacinto County Appraisal District but no action is being taken by the board to resolve the problems,” Ray said. San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner is a member of the board that oversees the appraisal district. “I‘ve gotten a number of complaints concerning timely hearings,” Faulkner said. “Board members met two or three times during the last month or two discussing a variety of problems, including personnel,” Faulkner said. “We (board members) came up with a list of directives dated March 3 for the appraisal district,” Faulkner said. There are 34 directives listed. Among those are: • Certify the tax roll on or before July 25 of each year. • In a pro-active effort to improve working relationship with the taxing entities in the county, expand communication with taxing entities, especially during the proposed budget process. • Work to create an atmosphere of teamwork between departments. Work to create positive relationship with other county offices. • All information considered public records should be made available to the public. Understand and accept that instructing office staff not to divulge public information is an abuse of authority. • Establish policy to see that filing is completed in a timely manner. • Understand the importance of a good working relationship between the CAD and county tax office. Make every reasonable effort to work cooperatively with the county tax office. Establish a specific day and time to meet with the tax assessor/collector on a weekly basis. Members of the San Jacinto County Appraisal Board are Fielding Browder, Johnny Smith, David Henry, Fritz Faulkner, Susan Bailes and Betty Davis who is a non-voting member.