Austin Forum Sheds Light on Need for Appraisal Reform
This past week, about 300 people attended a forum hosted by Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea about property tax appraisals. With rising property taxes, people were excited to find out about different ways they could reform the system and make sure that commercial property owners were paying their fair share.
The forum panel, which consisted of Travis County Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro-tem Kathie Tovo, Travis County Tax Accessor Bruce Elfant, Center for Public Policy Priorities Dick Lavine and Real Values for Texas’s own Leigh Murrin, highlighted the loopholes in state law and the many barriers in place that make it difficult for a fair and effective property tax appraisal system.
In addition, speakers also spoke about ways we can fix our broken system. Examples included changing state laws to allow sales disclosure of commercial properties, allowing the appraisal districts to be awarded attorney’s fees, and setting standards for what is considered a comparable property during an appraisal appeal.
The Mayor and Mayor Pro-tem also spoke about what can be done locally, including Tovo’s push for a petition to protest the City’s appraised values and a resolution to require any commercial property owner to pay property taxes on the real market value of their property if they receive a city tax incentive, much like the “clawback” provision Waco City Council passed in 2012.
Just hours before the forum began, the City of Austin also released it’s study of Travis County Appraisal District’s (TCAD’s) appraisals. Their analysis found that Travis County commercial properties were undervalued by 53% just last year. Mayor Pro-tem Kathie Tovo stressed the importance of changing this and stated that once commercial property owners are paying their fair share, homeowners will see some relief.
Many attendees expressed their disapproval for the system but understood the importance of taking action and the need for statewide reform.
Coverage from the event is below:
Point Austin: The Appraisal Scam: TCAD can’t accurately appraise
Michael King, Austin Chronicle, May 22, 2015
Property tax system messed up; nobody happy
Sunny Sone, Austin Monitor, May 21, 2015
Council may challenge “undervalued” appraisals
Tyler Whitson, Austin Monitor, May 20, 2015
Austin, Travis County leaders host property tax forum
Ashley Goudeau, KVUE, May 19, 2015
City Report On Tax Appraisal Inequities Draws Outrage
Bill Oakley, Austin Affordability, May 21, 2015