Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

January 6, 2013

Appraisal district now offers online protests

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Property appraisals will be coming out around the first of May, but this year there will be a change in how protests can be made — now they can be made on-line.

“The newest thing is that only on homesteads you will be able to protest electronically,” said Karen Morris, chief appraiser for the Navarro Central Appraisal District.

“We’ll have a new system set up, it’s mandatory by the state, to be up this year,” Morris said.

Under the new system, people will still receive a paper letter in the mail if their appraisals have gone up more than $1,000. They can then register on the Navarro CAD website, providing their e-mail address, and they’ll get a user ID name and a PIN, which they can use to negotiate on what they believe is the true value of their home. They will also receive a finalized value online this year, Morris said.

Counties that already have the electronic appraisal protesting available have had mixed results, according to those appraisers.

“It’s a growing thing. We’ve been doing it for two years and it started off with very few people, but more and more people are taking advantage of it,” said Ken Wright, chief appraiser in Galveston County. “It’s change, and it’s one of those changes that I think is great. It works quite well.”

Having the on-line protests does make things quicker, for both the taxpayers and the appraisers, but there’s a trade-off for that efficiency, Wright said.

“One thing the taxpayer does lose is that personal ability to tell your story, if you have a story to tell,” he said. “You don’t have that passion or connection, that you’re sitting in front of somebody selling what you believe in. If could work the other way, if someone has a personality that antagonizes folks, I can see it working the other way.”

Denton County hasn’t had the same kind of response that Galveston has had to the electronic protests, according to Chief Appraiser Rudy Durham.

It was offered only in limited areas, and on certain kinds of properties for the last two years. Of the approximately 3,000 accounts, fewer than 300 took advantage of the electronic protest opportunity, Durham estimated.

“We had very limited response to it. We were hoping to get more. We thought we would get more,” Durham said. “But it’s complicated. It’s not like going out and ordering a book (on-line). There’s different variables you have to look at, like a cracked foundation or other problems that we don’t really see. Then it gets all complicated to do things by e-mails. Quite often it works out better face to face.”

Durham said the Denton office is working on improving the software to make it more user-friendly this coming spring.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing in the past,” he said. “We’ve got to make it easier for people to protest and address their grievances, to work it out.”

Taxpayers can look for notices of their new appraisals around May 1 in Navarro County. The letters have to be mailed by April 30. People have 30 days to protest their appraisals.

And, for those who’d still prefer the old fashioned “face-to-face” negotiating session with an appraiser, that’s still available too.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com