The Henderson County Appraisal District sent a record number of letters this month, informing property owners that their appraisals have increased by $1,000 or more.
This year, the CAD mailed 51,257 notices. Last year, there were about 48,000.
Chief Appraiser Bill Jackson said the increased market value of property in the county is driving the higher numbers on the new appraisals. Jackson said in some of the prime areas of Henderson County, land to build a house on is at a premium.
“Our market has really exploded as far as the values because of the demand for real estate in Henderson County,” Jackson said. “That is and the fact that the state continues to tell us we are too low on our values.”
The state studies property values each year and critiques the County Appraisal Districts on whether their values fall within certain parameters. If they don’t, school districts in the county could lose state funding. According to the Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division’s, 2019 Property Value Study, the values in Henderson County are 8% to 15% too low depending on the location of the property.
“I’ve got three school districts that are possibly looking at losing $3 million in state funding right now,” Jackson said. “It’s serious and trying to convince the state that we’re right and they’re wrong is an impossible feat.”
Jackson said, in the spring, summer and fall of 2020 property around Cedar Creek Lake in the Malakoff, Mabank and Eustace ISDs, the values increased by 15%.
“It’s that way on anything around the water,” Jackson said.
A development in Kaufman County, near the Cedar Creek Country Club is an example of the demand. Jackson said the development, with at least 40 lots sold out within about about eight hours after going on the market. The lots were valued at from $50,000 to $250,000.
“Our proximity to Dallas is very attractive and now people have learned to work from their homes and still be productive,” Jackson said.
Jackson doesn’t have a ready answer for what to do about the higher taxes.
“For years I’ve defended the property tax system, but I can’t defend it anymore,” Jackson said.
HCAD now employs a consultant for property values to stay on top of the trends.
“That’s all he does in track the market and help us build our cost schedules,” Jackson said.
Texas gives the property owner an avenue of protest if they think their new appraisals are too high.
The HCAD is conducting informal meetings with taxpayers through June 18 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at their office at 1751 Enterprise Street in Athens. To allow for social distancing, no more than seven people can wait in the lobby at one time.
If a property owner wants to bypass the informal meeting, they can file a Notice of Protest by mail or online at www.henderson-cad.org.
Jackson anticipates running three or four panels for Appraisal Review Board hearings this summer.
“Fortunately, as far as I know, this year we’ll have in-person hearings,” Jackson said. “That should move it along a lot faster than we did last year.”
Although it bears the name, Henderson County Appraisal District, the CADs are not a part of county government, but are directly under the state. The tax collections for most of the cities and school districts in the county are handled by the County Tax Assessor-Collector which is an elected county office.
The money collected is then dispersed to the various taxing entities depending on their tax rates. A look at your annual tax statement shows where the funds go. A sample bill In Henderson County shows the local school district with a tax rate of 1.2246 on a $100,000 home. Henderson County rate is less than a third of the school district’s at .3804590. Trinity Valley Community College has the next largest rate of .1385400.
Next, a look at legislative attempts to overhaul the Texas property tax system.