City to plead its case to special review board
The City of Port Aransas will present its challenge to skyrocketing property values before a special review board of the Nueces County Appraisal District on Monday, July 16. The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the appraisal district board room, 201 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi.
The council voted unanimously on Thursday, June 14, to file what's called a "classification challenge" with the Nueces County Appraisal Review Board (ARB). The challenge affects only single family homes in the city; other properties such as businesses, condominiums and mobile homes are not affected.
Such challenges can be issued only by a taxing entity such as the city, the school district or water district; individual property owners can'submit them. However, the challenge affects all properties in the city that are classified as single family homes.
Classification challenges are so rare in Texas that a State Comptroller's Office spokesman said he didn't remember when the last one was.
While the challenge is on behalf of all single family homeowners, the city isn't encouraging property owners to attend the Monday hearing.
"There is limited seating and this is a semiformal process," City Manager Michael Kovacs said. "The city will have our legal and appraisal team present. Jim Popp, our lead tax attorney from Austin, will deliver the oral arguments."
Kovacs said in any case, the procedure doesn't provide an opportunity for citizens to speak.
Besides Popp and Kovacs, City Attorney Mike Morris and Councilman Keith McMullin, who is a Realtor, are expected to attend the hearing.
Morris told the city council on June 14 that if the ARB finds in the city's favor, one of the things it can do is direct the appraisal district to re-appraise properties here. While in theory that could also result in even higher property values, Morris called such a move "a clear message to the district."
He said, "I don't think (the ARB) has ever had (a classification challenge)," and Kovacs added, "Around the state, this may be the only one that's been done recently."
Council members were vocal in urging individual residents to also protest their tax bills, saying the council action doesn't take the place of a property owner's protest.
A phone call from the South Jetty to the Nueces County Appraisal District Tuesday seeking information on how many single-family homeowners had filed protests this year had not been returned as of press time Wednesday.
Speakers at the June council meeting begged the council not to ignore residents of condominiums and manufactured housing, which don't fall under the "single family" classification.
"We focused from the outset primarily on single family dwellings because that's where we see most of the (increase in) appraisals, and because that's where most of our residents are," Kovacs explained.