The Travis Central Appraisal District is seeking approval to purchase and renovate a new building in Northeast Austin due to the rapidly increasing number of property appraisal protests the district handles each year.
Travis County commissioners approved the $10 million project, which includes the acquisition and renovation of the property at 850 E. Anderson Lane, on April 23. The area’s other taxing entities, which include Austin Community College, Austin ISD, Central Health and the city of Austin, also need to approve the purchase.
TCAD has sufficient funds to cover the costs of the project without any additional funds from area taxing entities, such as the county, according to an April 3 letter to County Judge Sarah Eckhardt from Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler.
Since 1985, TCAD has been located at 8314 Cross Park Drive, which is at maximum capacity. In 2016, the appraisal district purchased land next door to its current facility with a plan to expand.
However, due to an increase in the number of appraisal protests and decreased availability of short-term leases for appraisal review board panels, the district has determined it is critical to relocate to a larger, already-built space in the near future, according to a brief provided to the Travis County Commissioners Court.
Before settling on the East Anderson Lane property, TCAD had proposed to rent the banquet hall facility at the Travis County Exposition Center from May 13 to Aug. 16 for appraisal contest hearings.
County commissioners voted 3-2 in October to reject TCAD’s proposal because it conflicted with the Republic of Texas Bike Rally and the Heat Wave Car Show, both events that have been held at the center for decades.
Since 2005, the number of protests filed in Travis County has increased over 200%, from 46,495 to 142,812, according to an April 16 memo from Jessica Rio, a county executive in the planning and budget office.
“The District expanded to twenty panels for 2018 and they state that even this expansion proved to be insufficient as they were not able to complete all protests and continued to have hearings until December,” Rio wrote, adding TCAD plans to expand to 40 panels this year and that its current facility can only accommodate 10.
TCAD is responsible for resolving at least 95% of all protests by midsummer, when taxing entities need to know the total taxable revenue in their jurisdiction to set tax rates and finalize budgets.