Property values and our taxes; What goes up, can come down...

By John Toth
The Bulletin

I didn’t protest my property tax value this year, as many of our readers probably didn’t, either.
For the first time that I can remember, the Appraisal District has brought property values down.
Until this year, if I wanted the value to go down, I would file a protest and explain to them why it should be lower. Sometimes they went along, sometimes they didn’t. Many times I missed the deadline and got stuck with the appraisal.
The people at the appraisal office were probably saying whey they saw me coming: “Oh no, it’s him again. Hide!”
I did make my elongated point several times, but not in an adversarial way. I gathered as much information as possible, and hoped for the best.
I must say, the appraisal folks were always courteous, and took everything into consideration. But sometimes they didn’t see it my way.
When I got my appraisal last year, I just about exploded. The house next to me has been vacant for years; we were in the middle of a recession; and my value went up by thousands of dollars.
I was ready for a fight (verbal fight), and when I walked in, it wasn’t so bad. My values were dropped. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
I was also able to combine two adjacent properties into one homestead, saving a little money.
You’re probably thinking this is boring stuff. But it’s important. Here is why. Appraisals are just part of the process. What is even more important is how much taxes are assessed based on the appraisal.
If your values go down and tax rates go up, then you’re right back where you started from or worse. In tough times, governmental entities that set tax rates must also act responsibly and consider the financial condition of the homeowner.
In other words, they should not be greedy and get the money anyway by raising tax rates. Public entities should cut and save wherever they can to give us a break when we need it.
Values are down because the economy is down.
A large portion of the taxes you pay go to local governments and school districts. Let’s pay attention to them at least as much as we do to what’s going on at the state and federal level, even though local stuff often is not as fiery as the national fisticuffs.
You’ll be glad you did once you see that tax notice.
By the way, those of you who took advantage of paying only half your property tax in November, start saving your pennies. The other half is due at the end of June. You should get a reminder, so don’t miss that deadline, or the interest will apply.