ROCKWALL – There are two primary reasons why County appraisals and taxes have skyrocketed this year, according to County Commissioner Lee Gilbert, a former Rockwall Central Appraisal District Board Member from 2011 until he was elected the current Precinct 2 Commissioner in 2015.
“It’s real simple,” he told The Rockwall News yesterday. “The booming economy and the fact that the CAD went 10-12 years without making proper adjustments on property values.”
“The previous chief appraiser for 34 years, Ray Helms, just let it slip through the cracks before he retired in 2014,” asserted Gilbert. “I’m not happy about it.”
“We Board members just didn’t realize it. The role of Board members is simply to hire and fire the Chief Appraiser and set the budget annually,” he continued. “Board members let the professional appraisers do the appraising. Nobody realized that they weren’t doing their jobs correctly until Helms retired and new Chief Appraiser Patricia Davis was hired.”
Gilbert explained that the state requires that land and property values now be appraised separately but it wasn’t always that way.
For the past 10-12 years Rockwall CAD appraisers were appraising the total of land and property accurately, but not the land portion, he added.
After Davis was hired two years ago to replace him, she fired several appraisers, hired new ones and began the task of ensuring land and property were valued properly.
Davis issued a statement to The Rockwall News last week explaining what has happened:
“Texas Property Tax Code charges appraisal districts to appraise property according to market value each year. Past year’s increases in market value of property were allocated mostly to the improvement on the property. In 2016, Rockwall Appraisal District allocated the value appropriately, which caused an increase in the land value. Land schedules were updated to more accurately reflect the allocation of the property value between land and improvement. This did not cause an increase of the overall market value. The market value would have been the same as the real estate market continues to increase in value. Real Estate sales indicated a rise in market values, regardless of the allocation.”
She added that state law requires the appraisal district to appraise at market value, based upon sales information. The main reason, therefore, that appraisals and taxes have increased so dramatically is the real estate market in Rockwall County has exploded.
Many homes are selling within a day or two of being listed and often for higher than the asking price, according to ReMax realtor Aundrea Whalen.
The good news for homeowners who have homestead exemptions is that taxes cannot be increased more than 10 percent, said Gilbert. But for those who have not yet applied for that exemption, the increase is unlimited.
Davis said it’s also possible for some appraisals on homesteads to have increased over 10 percent if homeowners have something else on their property such as out-buildings or pergolas, which also must be included.
Some neighborhoods have also increased in value more than others.
“We must appraise property according to the market indication for each neighborhood,” she explained. “Neighborhoods may have increased more than others depending on the desirability of the purchasers.”
For those who want to protest their increase, Gilbert explained it’s easy to do. He suggested a homeowner simply make an appointment and have a friendly visit with Davis to ask how the CAD came up with the tax bill. “Ask that they reduce it,” he said.
If that is not satisfactory, then ask to go before the Board of Directors, which includes five area residents who are also concerned about increased rates. “It doesn’t offend them at all that a homeowner wants to come before them to make the case why the tax bill should be lower,” Gilbert explained.
A third step is for homeowners to present their cases to District Judge Brett Hall or David Rakow.
You can also file a protest online. Click here to protest online.
Davis said they would rather no one protest, but they are certainly welcome to.
“We must uphold the laws of the state. Keeping values at market value and equal is one of our primary responsibilities,” she said.
She added that she’s tried to give elected officials “a heads up as to large increases once we confirmed the final calculations.”
“By law elected official are not supposed to get involved in valuation of property; that was one reason for the creation of the appraisal districts. Elected officials’ duties are to use the increase or decrease in values to raise or lower tax rates to offset the increases in value,” she stated.
To contact the Rockwall Central Appraisal District, call or visit at: