Property Owner Protections & CARES Act Funds for Local Jurisdictions

May 13, 2020

Higher Burden After Successful Appraisal Protest

Many times I’ve heard constituents complain of appealing their new property tax appraisal, prevailing in that appeal, only to see their valuation raised right back up at the next appraisal. This hasn’t been unique to Parker and Wise counties. Last year I was able to pass a property owner protection measure to address this problem. (Honestly, I knew it would help but it is apparently having a much broader impact than I expected.) 

HB 1313, which went in to effect Jan. 1, prohibits an appraisal district, after a successful appeal by a property owner, from increasing a valuation during the next appraisal cycle without “clear and convincing” evidence to justify the increase. Clear and convincing is the highest standard of proof in civil law. 

So how does this play out? State law requires county appraisal districts to reappraise all property at least once every three years.  In Parker County, for example, which reappraises every other year, this means without clear and convincing evidence your valuation could be locked in for four years.  In Wise County, where property is reappraised annually, for two years.  

In this article published Monday in the Fort Worth Star Telegram the chief appraiser credited HB1313 with holding down appraisal increases in Tarrant County. “Of Tarrant County’s 662,100 residential and commercial accounts, 171,345 didn’t change in market value and 283,345 saw a decrease, said Jeff Law, Tarrant County’s chief appraiser. … One big reason for the smaller than average increases in appraisals, Law said, is because of a new law that went into effect Jan. 1.”

Let’s hope HB1313 produces the same help to property owners all across Texas.

Counties and Cities Eligible for Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund 

Texas received $11.24 billion from the United States Department of Treasury to direct toward coronavirus related expenses.  Within the funding provided by the federal CARES Act, 45% of Texas’ allocation – approximately $5.06 billion – was designated for local governments.  Unfortunately, the fed required priority to local jurisdictions with over 500,000 in population meaning that just six cities and 12 counties in Texas will receive $3.2 billion of the available funding for local jurisdictions.  That leaves approximately $1.85 billion that the state can make available to all other cities and counties in Texas. 

These charts, produced by the state, show what these allocations could look like for Parker and Wise counties.  (Note – there are a few incorporated jurisdictions that were left off unintentionally that my office is working to correct.) 

The Texas Capitol remains closed to the public but I want you to know that my office is open for business. You can reach me anytime at 512-463-0738 or [email protected]. The same is true for your Parker County and Wise County local elected officials. Although this is unprecedented territory for local government, they have done a remarkable job. I have never seen the level of coordination and cooperation between jurisdictions. It’s one of the reasons that Parker and Wise will be among the first to recover from this shutdown.