Property valuations have increased by 25 percent in Burnet County and 20 percent in Llano County. Both rates are all-time highs, according to the chief tax appraisers for each county.
“This is uncharted territory,” Burnet Central Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Stan Hemphill told DailyTrib.com. “Look at the growth. Just look and see how many new subdivisions, new construction, just the volume of ownership changes.”
Other counties have increased even more, he pointed out. In Williamson County, the increase was about 40 percent. In Travis County, valuations rose by 52 percent.
“In my 18 years with the district, I’ve never seen this before,” Llano Central Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Scott Dudley said. “This is a highly unusual market.”
The good news is that higher appraisals do not necessarily mean higher taxes.
“Tax rates could theoretically go down,” Dudley said. “But we are not the tax people. We are the value people. The tax calculation side is the taxing entities, such as the school, counties, and cities.”
Once the taxing entities receive the property valuations from the central appraisal districts, which has to happen before July 25, the deadline for certification, they begin the budget deliberations that conclude with a tax rate for each. What those rates can be is further restrained by state law.
Each taxing entity must publish the rate at which “no new revenue” would be generated over what was brought in the previous year. They also must publish the “voter-approval rate,” which is 3.5 percent higher than the no-new-revenue rate. If an entity does approve a rate over 3.5 percent of the no-new-revenue rate, that rate must be approved by voters. Entities usually land somewhere in between.
Hemphill agrees that entities might be dropping tax rates this year because of the higher appraisals. Certainly the no-new-revenue rates will be lower.
“In general, with the growth, the tax rates would potentially come down from what they were last year,” Hemphill said. “Even though your property evaluation went up, your actual tax bill could be the same as last year. It is not necessarily going to go up.”
Appraisals are based on the market value of property, which has been soaring in both counties. In Burnet County, the taxable value of an average home increased about 14 percent. New construction added $400 million to Burnet County tax rolls, mainly from agricultural land being turned into residential property, which taxes at a much higher rate. The three main growth areas of Marble Falls, Granite Shoals, and Burnet all increased around the same.
In Llano County, Kingsland values went up 25 percent compared to 16 percent in Horseshoe Bay and 21 percent in Llano. Dudley points to the pandemic as a driving force, pushing people out of cities into rural areas.
“Also, the influence of the (Interstate) 35 corridor in Hayes, Travis, and Williamson counties and from Tesla and Samsung,” he said, referring to companies moving their headquarters to Central Texas. “More people are coming in there, and people are coming from there to here.”
Property owners unhappy with their appraisals still have time to file a protest. In Burnet County, the deadline to file is Wednesday, May 18. Llano County’s deadline is May 26. Protests can be filed online and be handled either informally or by requesting a hearing with the tax review boards. So far, the number of protests filed in both counties is about the same as last year, despite the rise in values.
Both chief appraisers advised those protesting appraisals to bring as much information as they can about the property.
“One thing I would advise them to do is look around their neighborhood and see what has sold and what it has sold for,” Dudley said. “The market is still increasing. It has not slowed down. It is the driving force for what our appraisals have done. The more informed they can be, the better.”
Hemphill suggested owners bring in information about changes they have made to the property or problems the property might have that could affect the value.
“If there’s something about their homes we weren’t aware of, structural issues, anything, just provide enough information,” he said. “That would really help.”
Protests also can be filed in person. Llano County property owners should go to the Llano Central Appraisal District office at 103 E. Sandstone St. in Llano. Call 325-247-3065 for more information. Burnet County property owners should visit the Burnet Central Appraisal District at 223 S. Pierce St. in Burnet. Call 512-756-8291 for more information. That district also has an office in Marble Falls at 110 Avenue H, Suite 106.