The mayor of one of North Texas’ largest suburbs has a glaring conflict of interest—he concurrently serves as a city official and as the county’s Chief Appraiser.
In addition to Lewisville Mayor Rudy Durham controlling the property tax rates of Denton County’s largest city, he’s also in control over the appraisal value of every residential and commercial property the city taxes.
The property tax bill paid by Texas taxpayers is the combination of two variables—the property tax rate levied by local governments, and the property value those tax rates are levied against.
The multiplication of the two variables determines how much a taxpayer pays. Durham is in control over both—the tax rate the City of Lewisville levies, along with the appraisal value of properties it taxes.
Surprisingly, this glaring conflict of interest remains legal under current state law.
Nowhere in the tax code are elected officials who control property tax rates prohibited from also having direct control or undue influence over appraisal values.
In his bio, Durham says he’s also a real estate professional, and is a licensed “real estate broker.” So while he’s paid a six-figure salary from taxpayers each year as the county’s top appraiser, while serving as mayor, he may also benefit from private real estate transactions, presumably inside the same county. The latter is unknown.
It’s important to note the lack of transparency of the Denton Central Appraisal District’s website. A thorough search found no published budget of the district, nor does their annual report list the pay of district staff.
As a real estate broker, Durham is eligible to receive commissions, referral fees, or consulting fees related to real estate transactions he may have assisted in while serving on city council.
Have any conflicts arisen between the two government offices he serves, or related to real estate transactions he has personally profited from?
There are other concerns. How much time does Durham dedicate to his full-time, paid position at DCAD? Is he spending any of that time – while on the taxpayer dime – performing mayoral duties, or running a private real estate business?
Durham has served on the Lewisville City Council for twenty-three years (since 1994), and has been elected as mayor since 2015. He’s been employed at DCAD for more than two decades during the same time period.
At the very least, Durham should either step down as Chief Appraiser or resign from elected office. He should not work at DCAD and be in elected office simultaneously.