Texans Talk Tax Appraisals

Earlier this year, Texas property owners received a 33 percent reduction in their school property taxes over the next two years. Now, Texas taxpayers are hoping for a break from rising property appraisals.

Tom Pauken, Chairman of the Task Force on Appraisal Reform, said, "What we're trying to do is look at all aspects of the system - everything from the appraisal process itself, methodology, the way it's set up, the issue of the appraisal review board - the whole process itself."

The Task Force on Appraisal Reform is hoping meetings like the one held in Lufkin Thursday will bring about change. Governor Perry created the 15-member group in August to hear what Texans have to say about rising property appraisals. And Texans are ready to talk.

"With rapidly rising appraisals and sharp increases in local tax levies all across Texas, reforms are needed to bring fairness to the property tax appraisal system and the property tax burden for all taxpayers," Pauken said.

State Representative Jim McReynolds said, "At the bottom line of it, it's real simple: it has to be transparent, it has to be fair, and it has to be equitable."

Lawmakers are also taxpayers. So they know the economic effect tax hikes can have on Texans. Some of them believe appraisals have gotten out of hand.

State Rep John Otto said, "This policy, in my opinion, is resulting in property being appraised in excess of fair market value, especially in light of the fact that in each area of the study that is conducted, the higher of the appraisal district's value or the comptroller's value is what is required to be used by statute."

Members of the appraisal review board want to make sure all hearings are fair, balanced, and effective. Over the next several weeks, board members will continue hearing recommendations from Texans on improving the appraisal process.

The Task Force on Appraisal Reform will meet in several cities and towns across the state. The group's goal is to come up with a plan to ease the burden of rising property appraisals in Texas.