By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
Property owners in Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties have only days left to decide if they want to protest their appraised values.
While each county handles appraisals and mail-out notices differently, state law allows all property owners a certain amount of time to protest their land values. Bell and Coryell residents have a May 31 deadline, and Lampasas County residents have until June 4.
"Even if a taxpayer does not receive a notice, if they have any concerns with their value, they need to contact their (appraisal) office," said Melissa Gonzales, chief appraiser for the Central Lampasas Appraisal District.
In Bell County, only owners whose property values increased or bought new property, about 40,000 people, received notices, said Marvin Hann, chief appraiser for the county district.
The Central Coryell County Appraisal District re-inspected property surrounding Gatesville this year, said Mitch Fast, chief appraiser for the district, but sent out notices to everyone in the county.
Gonzales said the Lampasas area was re-inspected this year but sent notices only to new property owners, those whose exemptions changed, and anyone with an increase of more than $1,000. All business property also received notices from the district.
The three Central Texas chief appraisers said most of the time only land owners who saw increases to their property values protest. Compared to last year, those seeking protests are down, so far across all the tri-county area.
Hann said Bell County has about 40 percent of the number of protests it received last year.
In Coryell County, Fast said 1,168 people filed protests last year, but only 345 people have turned in formal files, so far this year..
Last week, 90 people had filed protests in Lampasas, said Gonzales. Last year, the district had about 350 protests.
Not many increases
A drop in growth across the tri-county area in the past three years might be one reason for the drop in protest filings, so far, this year.
"Right now everything is pretty static, as we are staying pretty flat with our values," said Hann, who said there has been some new commercial and residential growth, but three to four years ago growth in both areas was abundant.
Gatesville had some construction during the last year, said Fast, but probably not much. Sale prices also are getting reported to the district at about the same values they have been, and fewer transactions are occurring now than between 2006 and 2008.
"As far as the housing market, the properties are continuing to sell for a little more than what we have them valued for," said Gonzales.
Filing the protest
Property owners who want to file a protest should fill out the paperwork sent to them and submit it to their appraisal district. Officials request that property owners talk to a district appraiser before scheduling a hearing with the review board.
"We contact every property owner prior to scheduling an appointment," said Gonzales, noting that sometimes such a meeting with the district will resolve the dispute.
If property owners still are not satisfied with their appraisals, the district will schedule a hearing. Most are held in June.
The three chief appraisers said property owners should prepare for the hearings. "If folks do go through the formal hearing, they need to make sure to bring some evidence to support whatever their position is," said Fast.
District officials hope to finish certifying property values by mid to late July for their respective tax entities.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.
Estimated appraised property tax values for 2012 by entity
Bell County $13.571 billion
Killeen $4.683 billion
Harker Heights $1.363 billion
Nolanville $146.7 million
Coryell County $2.198 billion
Copperas Cove $1.162 billion
Gatesville $331 million
Lampasas County $1.127 billion
Lampasas City $342.9 million
Kempner $40.49 million
Source: Area tax appraisal districts
Note: All numbers are estimates provided by the districts last week and are subject to change as protest and more exemptions are made.
Certified property tax values for 2011 by entity
Bell County $13.726 billion
Killeen $4.732 billion
Harker Heights $1.396 billion
Nolanville $143.1 million
Coryell County $2.135 billion
Copperas Cove $1.126 billion
Gatesville $322.9 million
Lampasas County $1.104 billion
Lampasas City $342.3 million
Kempner $40.32 million
Source: Area tax appraisal districts
- Compiled by Mason W. Canales