A quiet election has been going on across Tarrant County over the last several weeks; it is an election for members of the Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD) board of directors.
The governing body of the appraisal district is elected by the cities and counties that benefit from the appraisals issued. Many have seen issues with the seemliness of such a system.
“It doesn’t look like an independent system when the entities electing the board are those who benefit,” pointed out Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley at the commissioners meeting on Tuesday.
Property appraisals are a key factor in the total property taxes assessed against an owner in Texas.
In Tarrant County, appraisals increased over 75 percent in the last decade.
The appraisal issue has led Rich DeOtte and Gary Losada to quietly conduct an effective campaign with the taxing entities around Tarrant County to join the Tarrant Appraisal District board. With between 700-800 votes each, they believe they have enough votes to join the board in January.
Each taxing entity is awarded a certain number of votes based on its tax base in the appraisal district. Fort Worth, Fort Worth I.S.D., and Tarrant County are some of the largest vote holders.
DeOtte and Losada have mostly garnered support from many smaller taxing entities throughout Tarrant County–cities like Colleyville, Southlake, and Keller.
The city of Colleyville nominated both DeOtte and Losada to the Tarrant Appraisal District board and cast votes for both. Mayor Richard Newton believes DeOtte and Losada will do a good job on the board.
“They both put effort into smaller entities and I believe they will seek input from the smaller entities — more than has been done in the past,” Newton said.
Both DeOtte and Losada want to see more transparency and better communication at the Tarrant Appraisal District. They also believe the software system used to do mass appraisals may need to be evaluated.
“TAD has a hard job to do to begin with, and customer service is consistently a problem people have. People need to feel like they are respected when they interact with the staff at TAD,” DeOtte said of changes he hopes to see at the appraisal district.
Both DeOtte and Losada sought to address rumors regarding current TAD employees.
“I want to reassure employees that I have no intention to cut benefits and salaries,” Losada said.
The Tarrant Appraisal District board is composed of five members who set policy for the district. It is not the board that reviews protests of appraisals by property owners.
The Appraisal Review Board, according to the Texas Tax Code, reviews property protests, and it is made up of members appointed by the local administrative district judge.
Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.