By Ender Reed
In our effort to take a closer look at Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), the revenue cap bill, we are highlighting and discussing specific sections of the bill as part of a series of four articles in County Issues.
In this third article, we discuss some of the changes being proposed to the appraisal system.
SB 2 creates a new state level “Property Tax Administration Advisory Board” to advise the comptroller on property tax administration. No elected officials are allowed to serve on the board.
It also provides the comptroller almost full authority to determine the methodology used by appraisal districts in appraising properties. The bill says that “an appraisal district shall appraise property in accordance with any appraisal manuals prepared and issued by the comptroller.” (Emphasis added.)
The bill does not specify what changes these appraisal manuals might contain so there could be significant changes to local appraisal processes and practices.
The bill lengthens the timeline for an appraisal review board to receive a protest from May 1 to May 15. At the same time, the timeline for appraisal review boards to hear and respond to appraisal protests is shortened from July 20 to July 5. This condensed timeline will make it more difficult for appraisal review boards to adequately address the protests that they receive.
SB 2 also requires the local appraisal district board of directors to be made up of only elected officials. This requirement prevents local property taxpayers from participating in the process of appraisal district administration.
Additionally, SB 2 creates “special appraisal review board panels” in counties with populations greater than 120,000 to hear certain types of industrial, commercial and utility property protests. These special panels have stringent requirements for who may or may not serve on them. These stringent requirements will make it very difficult, or in some cases impossible, for appraisal districts to find qualified people to serve on these special panels.
Next week we will discuss alternative solutions to the proposals advanced in SB 2.
Read the first two County Issues articles in the series:
A Closer Look at Senate Bill 2: Lowering the Current Revenue Cap
A Closer Look at Senate Bill 2: Automatic Rollback Elections