The Bell County Appraisal District will hold its quarterly board meeting Tuesday with a public hearing on the district’s policies that came under fire from residents reporting abnormally high increases in annual property appraisals this year.
The district caused a public backlash in May after landowners along East Knights Way from U.S. Highway 190/Interstate 14 to Warrior’s Path in Harker Heights reported across-the-board appraisal increases from the previous year, some as high as 5,050 percent.
Marvin Hahn, the chief appraiser for the district, said an alteration of “mass appraisal” tables in 2017 was undertaken to address chronic land undervaluation along certain commercial corridors throughout the county.
“If we establish that on a certain class of property we’re appraising at 85 percent, and we should be at 100 percent, then we have to make those increases in those tables,” he said. “Some of these commercial corridors have begun to expand, and sales have taken place, and we’ve kind of been behind the eight ball trying to play catch up.”
The astronomical increases led to an emotional public hearing held by the Harker Heights City Council in May and a denouncement from Texas District 54 Rep. Scott Cosper, R-Killeen, who represents Harker Heights.
“I am very disappointed at the overreach that the Bell County Tax Appraisal District has done this year concerning properties that have not changed in any manner, yet have seen egregious increases in their appraisals,” Cosper told the Herald May 26. “Those citizens deserve better than to have these overreaching increases in their appraisals all in one year.”
On June 24, mired in an unprecedented number of formal appraisal protests from landowners, the appraisal district announced another across-the-board appraisal review and lowered the assessed values of properties most affected by the increases by as much as $500,000.
“Going in, we didn’t have a lot of information to go on,” Hahn said. “We had reason to believe there was enough development down there to spur those developments.”
At its Tuesday meeting, the district board of directors will also discuss the certification of the county’s annual land rolls and the district’s annual budget.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday at 411 E. Central Avenue in Belton.