SALADO — Come and talk to the Tax Appraisal District of Bell County to discuss your proposed land values.
That was the message Chief Appraiser Billy White had for more than 100 residents gathered at the Salado Intermediate School cafeteria to discuss their proposed appraisals during a town hall on Thursday.
Salado residents have seen their appraisals significantly increase this year. Bell County Commissioner Bobby Whitson said that he has received calls from residents who have seen their values increase by more than 50 percent.
Prairie Dell resident Sidney Pruett saw his property increase by about 30 percent. He said that was equal to about a $50,000 increase on his property value.
White — who replaced former Chief Appraiser Marvin Hahn in December — explained the appraisal process. He said that the Tax Appraisal District appraises property values and collects taxes for the local governments in the county.
“To make it easier to understand, the appraisal district determines the taxable value each year,” White said.
Part of the reason Salado has seen a bump in land values, White said, is that the area has failed the Texas Comptroller’s property value study. The study occurs every other year.
“They look at all the values we have,” White said. “For the past two years, we’ve actually been below in Salado. … That is showing us something — that we’ve (the Tax Appraisal District) been behind the market.”
The state requires tax appraisal districts to set values at “fair market rates.”
White encouraged Bell County residents to visit the Tax Appraisal District’s main office — 411 E. Central Ave. in Belton — to talk about why their property value increased.
Residents have until May 15 to protest their proposed land value. Visit bellcad.org to file your protest online. The Tax Appraisal District also has protest forms available on its site and at their offices.
Lawyer John Galligan asked White how many people who have visited the Tax Appraisal District’s office have seen their values reduced. In the past week, White said, about 50 percent of people who stopped by the office have seen a reduction.
Galligan said residents need to find out what is causing their property values to increase.
“Anytime somebody sees something go up 100 percent, they have to stand up and see why,” Galligan said.
County resident Eric Kaelin expressed his frustration with the proposed increases in appraisals. He said people may have to move out of Bell County because of it.
“I’m just telling you, man, our property taxes are exceeding our mortgage payment,” Kaelin said.
“People have had enough,” he added.