By Jon Schroeder
The Cove Herald
Some Coryell County property tax statements have already been sent out, but this year they’re being sent in two parts. What Coryell residents are getting now is the first part, comprised of county and city tax statements.
Residents won’t receive the second mailing, which includes the Copperas Cove Independent School District statements, until after the November election.
The second mailing is needed because of changes to the law regarding school district maintenance and operations taxes made by the 80th Texas Legislature. The law requires the district to drop its maintenance and operations budget 29.7 cents, to $1.04. The district opted to go through a rollback election to raise that rate back up to $1.17.
Since the CCISD tax rate hinges on the rollback election, those statements have to be held for now.
“If the proposed rate is approved, taxpayers would still see a decrease in their taxes, just not as great a decrease as they would see with the $1.04 rate,” Sonny Monroe, CCISD superintendent of finance and support services, told the Killeen Daily Herald in September. “A majority of the people will see a tax decrease even with the proposed rate.”
Not including the CCISD tax rate, “most rates stayed the same or actually dropped a little bit,” said Chief Appraiser Jerry Hogg. On the whole, he said the county “fared pretty well.”
The increase in county revenue from last year, at about $100 million, is much smaller than the increase going into 2006, at about $400 million. Hogg said he anticipates a similar or slightly smaller increase from this year to 2008.
“We generally run about a year behind the market,” he said. “This was a pretty typical year.”
The Coryell tax rate of 39.9 cents per $100 in property value hasn’t changed from last year.
The storms and the declared state of national emergency in June will have much less effect on appraisal values than was originally anticipated. There are several reasons, Hogg said. Many of the people whose properties were damaged have fixed it by now, so their appraisal values likely haven’t changed much.
In addition, even though about 300 people in Coryell County applied for FEMA aid, only about 30 have contacted the appraisal district before the Aug. 31 deadline about getting their properties reappraised. Even fewer were granted reappraisal, but that process will finish in November.
Hogg said it was surprising: the appraisal district worked quickly get a possible reappraisal process underway but received fewer requests than anticipated.
“We wanted to show taxing jurisdictions what the impact (of the storms) was going to be,” he said.
This time of the year, the appraisal district is already doing most of the field work for the 2008 fiscal year. That means measuring and listing new properties — those built since Jan. 1 — and properties which have had construction work in the last year.
Richard Radden, living in Gatesville, has received his tax statements but says Coryell residents receiving two will likely be confused. Unless the situation with the CCISD tax is well-known (and it wasn’t to him), he said people are likely to get hit with an unexpected tax after they’ve already paid.
“That’s not good,” he said, noting that his taxes went down on the whole this year.
Cove resident Mel Bukszpan said officials have done a good job communicating the fact that citizens will receive two statements, but said he doesn’t like the idea. His taxes went up significantly since 2006.
Sam Willoughby, who lives in Bell County in the Copperas Cove Independent School District but owns two Coryell County businesses in Copperas Cove, said taxes this year seem “ridiculously high” in general.
His two properties in Bell County, for which he’s received his first set of tax statements, were taxed more heavily this year. Willoughby paid $31 in taxes for an empty lot last year in Bell County. This year, without including the CCISD statement, he’s already paid $358 for the same property. Taxes for his other Bell County lot, which has a house built on it, jumped $75.
“We left England because of taxation without representation,” he said. “What good is the representation if we’re still paying ridiculous taxes? There has to be change.”
Willoughby hasn’t received statements from Coryell County yet, but he’s bracing for the worst. He says the property tax system — especially with the added CCISD tax — seems confusing and redundant.
Contact Jon Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-0428