NPT Capitol: Rep. Quintanilla update on tax and appraisal committee
News release from the office of state Rep. Chente Quintanilla (actually sent out several days ago):
Quintanilla Updates Select Committee on Property Tax Relief and Appraisal Reform
Austin, TX–During the period between the 80th legislative session and the 81st legislative session, State Representative Chente Quintanilla was a member of the House Select Committee on Property Tax Relief and Appraisal Reform. He was appointed to that committee by former speaker Tom Craddick.
The committee was charged with taking testimony on property tax and property appraisal issues. The committee findings would the be the basis for bills to be filed in the session which started in January of 2009.
Based on the committee recommendations, Chairman Otto filed several bills including House Bill 8 joint authored by Representative Quintanilla.
HB8 changes the comptroller’s appraisal review cycle from every year to every two years for each appraisal district unless the comptroller finds serious deficiencies in the published appraisals. In such cases, a study would be done annually. This would increase accuracy and improve the practices and standards of appraisals done in Texas. Because fewer school districts are studied annually, the comptroller’s office would produce a more focused study thereby eliminating some of the problems that have arisen in the past. Some of the problems with appraisal district findings were related to the failure to concur with the comptroller’s numbers. With more focused studies, the process will be more uniform. This should reduce the tendency of the comptroller’s findings constantly pushing property values higher than the local appraisals.
The other significant bill to be passed on to Governor Perry was Senate Bill 771. The bill was filed by Senator Williams and sponsored in the house by Chairman Otto. This bill has important provisions that directly affect each homeowner in Texas.
Basically the bill requires that the chief appraiser of a district base appraisals on all available evidence before an increase may be assessed. In other words, an appraisal may not be simply based on a property sale close by. The specifics of each home must be taken into consideration. Also, the burden of proof is on the chief appraiser to substantiate the increase; no longer the responsibility of the homeowner. If a property receives a reduced appraisal, then that lower appraisal shall be the appraised value for taxation purposes. And, the property value may not be automatically increased the following year unless the chief appraiser has shown substantial evidence that the reason for the previously lowered appraisal has been corrected or changed.
In accordance with the committee findings, Chairman Otto also filed a bill that created a pilot program in El Paso county (and five other counties) that would amend the means by which appeals on property appraisals over $1 million could proceed. A property owner could opt to take his protest to a State Office of Administrative Hearings venue as opposed to the more costly district court. The district court may also be more time consuming as it hears a much wider variety of cases (criminal, civil, probate).
Quintanilla also joint sponsored with Representative Joe Moody SB 2317 by Shapleigh setting forth new guidelines for eligibility for appraisal review board members along with continuing education requirements.
“The legislation that was filed, one of which I joint authored, has taken big steps in making the appraisal process more property owner friendly. This will be an ongoing and continuous process. For the first time, the chief appraiser of the district will have to provide evidence to the property owner as to why a property value was raised. Hopefully, this will reduce the number of unfair appraisals based on the sale of a single property in the same area,” said State Representative Chente Quintanilla.
Chairmen John Otto had this to say: “We listened to the taxpayers who came to those hearings and told us they are fighting the same battles year after year with their appraisal districts. I believe this appraisal reform package addresses some of the problems that have continually plagued both the taxpayer and the appraisal district.”