A look at the 2015-2016 budget for the Fort Bend County Appraisal District highlights how much money local taxpayers are wasting to support an operationally corrupt appraisal system here in Katy and throughout Fort Bend County. As I have detailed before, local appraisal districts have steamrolled local homeowners with skyrocketing residential property taxes and disparate treatment of different types of property owners, creating a two-tiered system where wealthy and commercial property owners have the resources and justification to pursue an expensive trial in district court.
As I noted in my testimony in before the Senate Committee on Property Tax Reform & Relief, our current property tax system in Texas is anything but uniform and equal in its treatment of property owners. Video testimony taken during a May hearing in Houston noted that the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District has something akin to a blacklist of arbitrators that it doesn’t want hearing your property tax appeals (see video around the 7:47 mark). This was just one of the many revelations of just how operationally corrupt the property tax system has become in Fort Bend County and throughout the state.
Looking at the 2015-2016 FBCAD budget we can see that local taxpayers are essentially wasting over $10 million per year to support an operationally corrupt property tax system that seems to provide little due process to residential homeowners while the CAD erases $millions from notice values every year for large commercial accounts. The 2015-2016 budget shows that FBCAD’s chief appraiser is receiving a salary of $158,100. This would explain why chief appraisers often have extended tenures in office. Another revealing line item in the FBCAD budget is the expense for ARB staff. That’s right! Expense/compensation for ARB staff is actually a line item in the FBCAD budget. Remember the 3-panel hearings where the ARB staff member tells you with a completely straight face that the ARB is “independent” from the CAD? We now have written evidence that the ARB’s “independence” is just smoke and mirrors. These supposedly “independent” ARB staff have a budgeted cost of $417,000 per year, with per-diem rates of compensation ranging from $150-$180 over an 80 day period.
Another interesting tidbit in the FBCAD budget is the two dozen or so residential “appraisers” earning between $40,000-$50,000 per year. I can only assume these are the same people you often meet in your informal hearing when visiting the FBCAD, many of which are not real licensed appraisers. It would seem to me that if these FBCAD employees are going to place such strict reliance on their flawed computer models and ignore written evidence submitted by homeowners, we could save the taxpayers over a $million per year by eliminating all of these positions and having the CAD buy a few self-service computer terminals. Homeowners could submit their own evidence just like you use the self-check-out at the grocery store. After all, if the human element of the process isn’t behaving like a rational human why not just automate the process and save the salary and insurance costs?
Take a look at the FBCAD budget for yourself. What kind of waste do you see? Just click the link below to see the budget detail…
Here is a list of arbitrators that have been deemed “not qualified” by the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District. If you are an arbitrator on this list, would you call it a blacklist?