After some complaints about higher than expected property valuations, Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana decided to put a discussion of the property appraisal system on Tuesday’s city council agenda.
“I can attest to you right now, 100%, we have zero influence on the Wichita Appraisal District,” Santellana said.
Santellana wanted to make clear elected officials are not to blame, if get your property appraisal and see you will still be paying a higher tax bill–even though the City of Wichita Falls hasn’t raised your taxes.
“They created appraisal districts for equalization of value for specifically for school districts, Wichita Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Lisa Stephens-Musick explained. “And if we do not meet the required ratio in our values, so if we’re not within five percent below or above one being market value, then the school districts suffer.”
That means school districts like the WFISD could lose revenue if the appraisal district’s valuations are inaccurate. The law requires the district to appraise at market value and the district is audited by the state comptroller, making sure appropriate appraisals are made. This also ensures governing bodies like city councils have no influence over the property valuation process.
“Our duties and our responsibility are to a tax rate, as to a percentage, the tax rate that we set every year and that’s basically where it goes beyond that,” Santellana said.
Stephens-Musick understands there are some people that may be upset by their valuations, whether they believe it’s under or over-valued. She explained the appraisal district does mass auditing with various formulas and calculations and are not able to inspect every piece of land. And should property owners be unhappy, they do have options.
“So, if they’re pool is leaking into their neighbor’s property, you need to give us a call, talk to your appraiser, let them know, let them come look at it or bring us pictures. We love pictures,” Stephens-Musick said.
Rest assured, Stephens-Musick said, if citizens still have a concern about politics getting in the way…
“If we based what we did on everything that the politicians were doing, we’d never get anything done.”
And if you do have any questions or concerns on your property valuation, we’ve got the appraisal
district’s contact link here.
To watch the full city council meeting click here