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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

The CAD has an appropriate name

Just what is this Central Appraisal District that wants a new building and the elected officials wonít let them have one? I thought you might wonder about it and so Iíll give you a brief (maybe) run down of what it is.

Until the late 1970s, each taxing entity like water districts, levee districts, schools and cities were individually responsible for what they valued property in their areas for taxing purposes. Theoretically, your property could have one value according to the school district and another value according to the city in which the property was located.

Actually, the assessed value of the property in the respective areas was usually purchased from the local school district. This meant that the other taxing entities did not have to have appraisers running around putting a value on your property although some of them did maintain bloated taxing departments.

Many of the taxing authorities were not happy because they felt they were at the mercy of the school districts which were run by elected boards which were often comprised of large landowners who had a vested interest in undervaluing properties.

That meant other elected boards like the county and cities had to raise tax rates each year to keep up with their spending and the buck stopped there. They took the heat.

In 1978, the Texas Legislature decided that a central appraisal district would save everybody money and would be a fairer way to value property. To run the central appraisal district, they came up with a formula by which board members of this new central appraisal district would be elected only by the citizen-elected boards of the taxing entities it served. In other words, no tax-payer elected board responsible directly to the people.

The complicated formula involved however many taxable properties were in each district. For example, Fort Bend County has the largest number of taxable properties in the county, followed by Fort Bend ISD, and Lamar CISD, then all the small cities and other taxing entities. There are about 193 different taxing authorities in the county.

So when it comes time to run the CAD, the other taxing entities with their certain number of assigned votes (determined by the number of properties in their district) voted on people to serve on the board of the CAD and therefore be responsible and run it.

The numbers I am using are for illustration only but letís say Fort Bend County commissioners got 500 votes, and Fort Bend ISD board of trustee got 225 votes, and Lamar CISD board of trustees got 215 votes and so on. Then each entity casts its votes for board members. Usually, several of the taxing entities will get together and combine their votes to get the person they want on the board.

Current board members are Lee Duggan III, Thomas Shirley, Kevin Welsh, Wayne Poldrack, Mary Gale Brindley, Patsy Schultz

The beauty of this process for the other elected boards is that the CAD is run by a board which does not have to answer to the tax-paying public. And the various board and commissions and courts all over the county, which are elected by the tax-paying public, have plausible deniability because they can claim they have nothing to do with running the CAD. And they have nothing to do with appraising your property higher each year because thatís the CAD responsibility. They just set the tax rate and if the appraised value goes up, they donít have to increase the tax rate although your taxes will automatically increase due to the higher appraisal.

Then we have the Appraisal Review Board. This is where you take your appraisal protest if you canít reach a satisfactory agreement with the CAD. Itís composed of the 16 people who are appointed by the CAD board. These 16 people are Ralph Young, Al Abramczyk, Barbara Boyance, Gary Piper, Stanley Kucherka, Wilton Jones, Bellford Chong, Darryl G. Sherman, Deborah Bell, Shirley Myers, Michael L. Barnes, Tom Demont, and Charles B. Coleman. (According to the CAD, several ARB board members have recently resigned; hence only 13 serving now.)

Are you getting this?

Hereís the deal: Weíve all seen our portfolios decrease in value by about 40% in the past year. So how come our property increases this year? In any event, the increase in appraisals has led to record protests and now the CAD is using the record number of people showing up to protest as grounds for more space.

This CAD wants to build a new building when they are paying the county $1 a year for rent on their current building? If you want to know who these crazy people are, look at the CAD board above, many of whom I have heretofore had respect for. Iím disappointed. And donít tell me you were duped.

Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
September 10, 2009