County tax roll review

County Judge David Barkemeyer

By David Barkemeyer, County Judge

The Commissioner’s Court has worked very hard at trying to work out a budget solution for 2016 that does not involve an increase in the county’s tax rate. We plan to leave the tax rate at $.652 per $100, yet many of you will be receiving tax bills that are higher than last year. Why is that?
The answer is that your property’s appraised value probably increased this year. Another possibility is that your city or school tax rate went up as well depending on where you live.
In this week’s article I want to take a minute to explain the overall changes in value in the different categories of properties in the county tax base since last year. Some of these won’t surprise you but some others I think you’ll find interesting.
I’m sure most of you saw the value of your home go up. Overall county home values went up $22 million to $492 million (22 percent of the total county assessed value of $2.2 billion), but homesites (lots) were unchanged at $52 million (2 percent of the total). All other improvements went up $22 million to $370 million (17 percent of the total).
Agricultural land went up in value $234 million but ag exemptions increased an equal amount ($234 million), so the taxable value of ag land was unchanged at $63 million which is only 3 percent of the county’s assessed value. That’s right, agricultural land represents only $63 million or 3 percent of the county’s tax base, even though the market value is appraised to be some $1.35 billion. Non-ag land and non-homesites, in other words, the rest of the land in the county is appraised and taxed at $115 million or 5 percent of the total county assessed valued. So all taxable land value in the county makes up about 10 percent of the tax base.
Minerals actually went down $52 million which was almost half of the total assessed value of minerals in the county, leaving only $54 million on the rolls which is only 2.4 percent of our total assessed value.
This brings us to the final category which is non-real estate or industrial/personal property. The Appraisal District’s rendering of all properties in this category went up $58 million to a total of $1.065 billion or 48 percent of the total assessed value of property in the county. Luminant represents almost 45 percent of that value. If Luminant were to prevail in their protest which is to drop their valuation by some $340 million, you can see what would happen, we would lose almost a third of this category and some 15 percent of the county’s tax base overall.
So disregarding the Luminant controversy for the time being, and subtracting the total exemptions of $489 million (which increased by $9 million this year), the taxable value for this year is $1.713 billion. There are $173 million of properties with values that are frozen due to owners that are over age 65 (or who are disabled veterans); thus the freeze adjusted taxable valuation this year is $1.541 billion, up $45 million.
Once all disputes are settled, the primary one of course being the Luminant case, then I can start to give you an idea of the direction that the county’s financial planning and future tax rate will take.