City wants NCAD refund
The Port Aransas City Council has decided it wants a refund from the Nueces County Appraisal District, but district officials don’t seem willing to provide it.
For the past five years, the appraisal district retained tens of thousands of dollars in surplus money at the end of each year, putting the money into what is now a $2.8 million fund to help pay the future cost of building a new office building to replace the aging structure that houses the district’s workers in downtown Corpus Christi.
The surplus money came from each of the 32 entities that fund the district’s operations.
Section 6.06 of the Texas Property Code says surplus money should be given back to cities, counties and school districts.
The appraisal district each year asked taxing entities to designate surplus funds toward the district’s building fund, according to Ollie Grant, the district’s chief appraiser. It was done with a letter sent with the appraisal district’s budget or separately, Grant said.
Certified letters were sent to the taxing entities each of the last three years to make sure they got them, Grant said.
“In no way, shape or form have I, as chief appraiser, my staff or board done anything deceitful,” he said.
Still, officials with some of the appraisal district’s taxing entities recently have said the district did not make it clear that some of the entities’ money was proposed for use in the building fund or that it could be returned to the entities.
The South Texas Water Authority, the City of Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Del Mar College and the Corpus Christi Independent School District, have asked for their money back from the building fund.
Dave Parsons, the interim city manager of Port Aransas, said he didn’t know how much of the city’s money is in the district’s building fund. Still, on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 17, the Port Aransas City Council voted unanimously to ask the appraisal district to refund the Port Aransas share of the money if the district was going to be refunding any other entities’ money.
On the same day, the appraisal district’s board of directors voted 5-2 against the idea of returning any entities’ money.
Board members in favor of sending the money back were James Duerr and Ed Lopez. Opposing it were the board’s chairman, John Sendejar, and board members Lorraine Stern, Robert Adler, Bob Jones and Sandra Billish.
The Port Aransas Independent School District Board of Trustees hasn’t taken a formal position yet on the matter. Superintendent Sharon Doughty said she expects the issue to be on the board’s agenda for its Jan. 14 meeting.
The appraisal district’s total surplus from all entities last year was about $400,000, according to Olivia Mixon, executive director of business and operations at PAISD. The Port Aransas school district’s share of that was about $18,000, Mixon said.
Grant said the only money that conceivably could be returned to entities would be from the 2009 surplus. Those amounts won’t be determined until an audit is done later, but it will be a moot point if the appraisal district doesn’t decide to return any of the money.