When some Salado residents recently received their property appraisal notices, they were shell shocked by the proposed values.
“Just everybody is really concerned about the tax appraisal values. They all went up a lot — a whole lot,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Whitson said.
Whitson — along with several other local officials, including Billy White, the new chief appraiser for the Tax Appraisal District of Bell County — will hold a town hall for Saladoans to discuss the property tax process.
The forum is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Salado Intermediate School cafeteria, 560 Thomas Arnold Road.
“We’re having a town hall meeting … to answer questions and help people find out how they can file their homestead exemptions and whatever exemptions they might not have filed,” Whitson said. “And kind of explain the process so they understand where it’s coming from, and they at least have a grasp on it because there is a ton of misinformation out there and people are just concerned.”
The commissioner said residents have called him about their appraisals.
“I have one lady in Salado that has lived in her home for 30 years. Her valuation went from $200,000 to $430,000 — over doubled,” Whitson said.
The Bell County government — which includes the Commissioners Court, Sheriff’s Department and various courts — does not propose and set appraisals.
That duty is up to the Tax Appraisal District, which is supposed to set property appraisals at “fair market value.”
The Commissioners Court and other local governments, such as cities and school districts, do set a tax rate that is levied against a property’s appraised value.
Bell County Judge David Blackburn explained why the Salado area and the state overall are seeing higher values.
“The state has calculated into its budget these increased values from around the state, not just here but everywhere, into their state budget,” he said, referring to the Texas House’s recently approved budget. “That is the reason the Comptroller’s office has gotten onto the local appraisal district about those values needing to go up.”
Furthermore, Whitson said, the Comptroller’s office tests tax appraisal districts’ values against what it believes to be fair market value.
“Every two years, the comptroller comes into the appraisal district and basically pulls properties and tests for fair market value,” the commissioner said. “Most of Bell County passed that test. Salado has failed that test for the last two cycles. For four years now, they have not met fair market value.”
Two years ago, landowners near Interstate 14 in Harker Heights saw their property values dramatically increase. One resident saw his property value increase by 5,050 percent. Eventually, the Tax Appraisal District lowered the values after reassessing the market value of the area.
To protest appraisals
If you disagree with the proposed appraised value of your property, visit the Tax Appraisal District of Bell County’s office in Belton, 411 E. Central Ave., 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The deadline to protest your appraisal is May 15. Visit bellcad.org to file your protest online. The Tax Appraisal District also has protest forms available on its site if you want to print and mail the documents.