Fort Bend County, state officials working to reduce 2020 appraisal property values

County and state officials are working to try to lower property tax values, which skyrocketed this year. But other officials said there are no provisions in the law to reduce values for 2020 based on the current health crisis. (Graphic by Jose Dennis/Community Impact Newspaper)
County and state officials are working to try to lower property tax values, which skyrocketed this year. But other officials said there are no provisions in the law to reduce values for 2020 based on the current health crisis. (Graphic by Jose Dennis/Community Impact Newspaper)

County and state officials are working to try to lower property tax values, which skyrocketed this year. But other officials said there are no provisions in the law to reduce values for 2020 based on the current health crisis. (Graphic by Jose Dennis/Community Impact Newspaper)

Fort Bend County 2020 appraisal notices have been mailed, and for those who have received theirs, the calculated market value is higher than expected.

Public response has been LOUD to the skyrocketing numbers released by the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District (CAD) this week,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales said in an April 16 Facebook post. “Many of our residents are facing complete economic devastation.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers estimates his own 44-year-old home's value increased by 70% year over year, or about $140,000, he wrote in a blog post.

The appraisal notices show the calculated market value of a property Jan. 1—before the coronavirus pandemic hit the area—according to an April 10 press release from the appraisal district. The property value is used to determine how much a property owner pays in taxes.

Property owners should receive their notices by April 18.


Meyers, Morales, County Judge KP George and state officials said they have taken or will take steps to try to reduce the appraised values, but so far they have been unsuccessful. George noted in an April 17 press release the county Commissioners Court does not oversee the appraisal district; it is a separate entity.

“A wholesale, county-wide rollback to lower property appraised values has been thoroughly investigated to the highest state authority through multiple channels, and it is not currently possible under the current statute,” Morales said.

Efforts to lower appraisal values

Meyers said he reached out to Fort Bend County Chief Appraiser Jordan Wise, urging the district to roll back property values to 2019 levels unless the 2020 value is lower. He also reached out to state Comptroller Glenn Hegar—a resident of Fort Bend County—to look into the issue.

Wise replied that appraised values in 2020 will reflect the market conditions as of Jan. 1, when the real estate market was robust. Appraised values in 2021 will reflect the market conditions from the coronavirus. Hegar came to a similar conclusion.

“We have researched the Property Tax Code to see what relief can be offered to property owners,” Wise wrote in an April 15 letter. “Unfortunately, there are no provisions in the law that allow for reduced values for 2020 based on an event such as the current health crisis.”

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, also asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to examine the tax code, Morales said. But Paxton said a temporary tax exemption would not likely apply under the declared disaster because no physical damage has occurred to property, unlike a hurricane or flooding disaster.

County's response

Meyers stated he will propose lowering the county tax rates and encouraged property owners to protest their values. Information on how to protest is available on the CAD website.

Morales said his office will work on a revenue-neutral 2020-21 county budget and is reaching out to local taxing entities—such as school districts and municipalities—to also pursue revenue-neutral budgets.

An online petition has also started, asking the appraisal district to begin a publicly transparent review of property valuations before the final certification of the appraised values July 25.

George's press release stated he will “do everything in my power to alleviate the financial burdens property owners are facing.

He outlined additional steps he is taking to address the issue, including launching a taxpayer survey, starting an economic recovery task force, and creating a Commissioners Court resolution urging state officials to change laws for emergency relief.
By Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. She covers education, transportation, local government, business and development in the Katy area.


MOST RECENT

Katy ISD to return to standard operations in June

As of June 1, Katy ISD students and staff will no longer be requiring face masks or offering virtual school, Superintendent Ken Gregorski said in an email on April 16.

Costco Business Centers, of which there are only about 15 in the country, carry different products and provide a different shopping experience to members than do traditional Costco Wholesale stores. (Courtesy Costco Wholesale)
Costco Business Center being built in Stafford; see live music in The Woodlands and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the Houston area from the past week.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

(Courtesy Great American Cookies and Marble Slab Creamery)
Hybrid Marble Slab Creamery, Great American Cookies location coming to Katy

A new Marble Slab Creamery and Great American Cookies hybrid location will be opening July 1 at Grand Morton Town Center.

Memorial Hermann is hosting a drive-thru vaccine clinic at the Smart Financial Center in Sugar Land April 15-16. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Walk-ins welcome at COVID-19 vaccine clinic April 15-16 at Smart Financial Center

Haven't recieved the COVID-19 vaccine yet? Memorial Hermann is hosting a drive-thru clinic from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. in Sugar Land. No appointment necessary.

Population and Survey Analysts, which predicted KISD would grow by approximately 2,400 new students per year for the next decade, made the recommendation to build additional elementary, junior high and high schools, especially in the north and far west areas of the district. (Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)
Katy ISD officials talk budget deficit, bond

"Where is the new money coming from?”

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homes priced above $750,000, such as this one in the Heights, saw a surge in sales in March, with almost twice as many properties sold. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Average Houston single-family home price jumps 20% in March

The average sale price for a home in March was $370,847.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Spearheaded by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, the new court, if established, would expand the capacity of the county's criminal court system in hopes of reducing its backlog, which stood at 70,951 total cases pending before criminal district courts in Harris County as of April 8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County supports creation of new criminal district court to tackle case backlog

If the efforts are successful, this would be Harris County's first new criminal district court since 1984 when the 351st District Court was created.

Newk's Eatery has closed its location in the Katy area. (Courtesy Newk's Eatery)
Newk's Eatery closes Katy-area location

While the Katy location may have closed, Newk's continues to serve diners at its Bunker Hill restaurant.