In the wake of the incredible devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, several local government entities are moving to support the reappraisal of homes damaged by the storm.
Local governments are allowed to reappraise damaged properties under Section 23.02 of the Tax Code, which states that, “the governing body of a taxing unit that is located partly or entirely inside an area declared to be a disaster area by the governor may authorize reappraisal of all property damaged in the disaster at its market value immediately after the disaster.”
Montgomery County was the first governmental body to call for reappraisals, with commissioners court passing a resolution unanimously in favor of relief.
When a local government requests a reappraisal, the appraisal district of that county is required as soon as possible to conduct a reappraisal of all damaged property within a disaster area declared by the governor. The taxing entity that requested the appraisal will bear the full cost.
“This request for reappraisal will affect Montgomery County taxes alone at this point,” said County Judge Craig Doyal. “If taxpayers want their school, city, township, or special district taxes adjusted to reflect their loss of value, it will be up to those taxing entities.”
Conroe Independent School District Board President Melanie Bush wanted to follow suit, and placed an item on the agenda for the school district to call for reappraisals as well. Amazingly, the school board refused to even discuss the item and voted down Bush’s request 5-2. The fact that board members were more concerned with losing tax revenue than helping victims of Hurricane Harvey immediately sparked near universal outrage across Montgomery County.
The backlash has been so severe that the board is now reconsidering the proposal, and will discuss voting on reappraisals at their October 17th board meeting.
The Woodlands Township Board moved swiftly to help taxpayers affected by Harvey, voting unanimously in favor of reappraisals. The board reminded homeowners to be proactive in the process:
“A major portion of this process involves assistance by the property owners,” said Township Chairman Gordy Bunch. “We remind Township residents who suffered storm damage to please submit evidence to expedite the potential future reappraisal.”
The Montgomery County Hospital District approved reappraisals as well. However, board member Bob Bagley said that Harvey would have a long-term impact on the county, and that even neighbors of homeowners who suffered damage would likely see their property values impacted.
“This is just another reason we need to do away with the property tax altogether,” he said.
The City of Montgomery also requested reappraisals. Fortunately, city council, which approved the resolution unanimously, does not believe that Harvey caused much damage within city limits.
Additionally, Willis Independent School District has voted In favor of reappraisals, and the City of Conroe is considering the idea.
So far, Conroe ISD has been the only jurisdiction where appraisals have been requested that has shamefully voted them down.