As the infamous 2019 property appraisal notices begin showing up in mailboxes, San Antonio City Council has hired a consultant to investigate the Bexar County Appraisal District, to determine if homeowners are receiving a fair annual appraisal of their property, and BCAD is using the best practices available to determine a home's value, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The annual re-appraisals are critical because property taxes are assessed 'Ad Valorem' or 'By Value,' and if the property value goes up, that means your property taxes go up, and rapidly rising property taxes are a key concern of residents not just in Bexar County, but across the state.
“The saying goes that the only certainties in this world are death and taxes,” said Councilman Pelaez. “But that doesn’t mean paying your taxes has to be painful. The study I’ve requested and that was approved today seeks to compare appraisal districts across the State to ensure San Antonio residents aren’t shouldering more of the burden than necessary.”
Councilman Clayton Perry, who has made property taxes and implementing a city homestead tax exemption a key priority of his term on City Council, says a lot of people feel the process is fixed.
"Going downtown every year to protest your taxes, that gets old folks," he said. "We have to come up with a way to make it easier and make it more streamlined."
The study will determine whether BCAD is fairly considering protests from homeowners, whether BCAD is using best practices for determining a property's value, and studying what other counties are doing in the appraisal process.
One thing that has raised the ire of many homeowner is BCAD's process of using what are called 'comparables' to determine a home's value. As the county has grown, the district has stopped the process of actually looking at homes or even driving through neighborhoods. It now uses sales data from neighborhoods that are considered 'comparable' to determine a home's value, even though those neighborhoods may be miles away and have nothing to do with the neighborhood where the home being valued is located.
Perry says, along with a homestead exemption, which would allow a homeowner who lives in the home to reduce the amount of appraised value that is taxable, this has the potential to bring property taxes into line.
"This in conjunction with the homestead exemption, would offer some meaningful relief," Perry said.
Several bills are moving through the Legislature to reform the appraisal process. One would put a cap on the amount that property appraisals could rise each year, while another would make the office of Chief Appraiser an elected position.
Currently, the boards of appraisal districts are made up of members of city councils, county commissions, and other taxing districts, the same groups that stand to gain from higher property taxes triggered by higher appraisals, a practice many opponents claim represents a conflict of interest.