Two different sides are emerging in the City's Challenge of Property Tax Appraisals.The Real Estate Council of Austin, which represents commercial interests versus Mayor Adler and City Council:
"Austin Mayor Steve Adler outlined for the first time Monday how the city’s challenge of commercial appraisals could proceed in court, saying the city will seek a reappraisal that could create savings for homeowners on their next tax bills and a longer-term solution that would ensure fairer values in years to come. "
Click read more, below, for the entire Statesman article.
A reader alerted us to RECA's stance on this issue, posted on their blog:
City Council Poised to Take a Wrong Turn on Taxes
"What’s different this time, say proponents of a challenge — led by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo — is that the city has a study “proving” commercial properties are undervalued by the Travis Central Appraisal District. This means homeowners are paying more than their “fair share. “
At RECA, we will stipulate that fairness is an important value for local government to observe. But this doesn’t change the fact that the bill for government is ultimately paid by the citizens, regardless of how we pretend to apportion it."
Other articles discussing the larger issue of commercial appraisal in Texas:
Real Values website:
Also, Politifacts did the math and Austin is the 3rd-fastest growing city for property taxes, behind only San Jose and Philiadelphia for 2005-20013:
And a copy of the City's study can be found here:
The Statesman's full article is under the cut - click read more.
Appraisal challenge’s next stop: courtroom
As requested, review board denies Austin’s property petition.
ByAndra Lim email@example.com
Austin Mayor Steve Adler outlined for the first time Monday how the city’s challenge of commercial appraisals could proceed in court, saying the city will seek a reappraisal that could create savings for homeowners on their next tax bills and a longer-term solution that would ensure fairer values in years to come.
His comments came on the same day the city and the Travis Central Appraisal District joined together and asked a 25-member panel of the Travis Appraisal Review Board to deny Austin’s petition challenging more than $30 billion in commercial value. The board took all of about 20 minutes Monday to do just that, paving the way for the city to appeal the decision in district court — which Adler said is a better forum for resolving the city’s petition. How exactly that will happen, however, is unclear.
“We’re charting new territory,” Adler said.
Or, as appraisal district lawyer Deborah Cartwright put it, “I wish I could speculate, but so much depends on what gets filed by the city and how the court treats this case, so I think we’re all in a wait-and-see kind of mode at this point.”
The city has 60 days to appeal the review board’s decision. Cartwright said the appraisal district aims to certify the tax roll within that window, which then enables taxing entities to set a property tax rate.
In addition to preserving the typical tax time-line, Adler said, moving to court allows more time for the city and the appraisal district to exchange information and look at whether the district’s models are working.
The idea behind the city’s challenge: If commercial properties were appraised at the full market value, those properties would pay a larger share of taxes, thus lightening the tax burden on homeowners.
“Certainly my intent was to have an impact on today’s valuation and tax bill, and that’s still my hope in this process,” said Council Member Kathie Tovo, lead sponsor of the resolution that led to the challenge.
If higher commercial values are added to a “supplemental” or recertified tax roll through the city’s challenge, taxing entities could have the option of resetting their tax rates at a lower level, resulting in reduced tax bills for homeowners — or a rebate if taxes had already been paid, Adler said.
The mayor also said he hopes the city and appraisal district can present an agreement to a judge, such as making tweaks to the district’s models that would better align appraised values with market values in the long run.
Cartwright said she’s not aware of any changes that need to be made to the district’s models for appraising groups of properties.
Buck Wood, a prominent attorney who first brought the idea of a challenge to Travis County leaders last year and has provided advice to the city this year, said he has long favored district court as the venue for airing the city’s challenge.
Wood has worked on other appraisal challenges — some of which have resulted in a court ordering the reappraisal of properties — but said he’s never seen one as broad in scope as the city’s challenge of commercial appraisals.
A victory in court, Wood said, “allows us to go to the Legislature and say, ‘This is not a joke. This is how much money you’re losing, and your voters out there, your folks that vote out there, they’re getting screwed.’”
Wood said a provision in state law that commercial properties use to reduce their appraisals based on the appraisals of comparable properties needs tightening up, among other laws.
Contact Andra Lim at 512-445-3972.