As homeowners continue to struggle with rising property tax bills, two Republican state representatives filed bills to reform the governing body that decides the taxable value of your home: your local appraisal district.

Appraisal districts do not set the rate at which your home is taxed—your local officials do. However, the process by which appraisal districts set those values has been criticized as opaque and requiring more transparency.

This week, State Reps. Matt Krause (R–Haslet) and Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) announced a slew of bills aiming to bring reform.

This session, Krause has again teamed up with North Texas property tax warrior Chandler Crouch, crafting four bills.

House Bill 2311 and its companion piece House Joint Resolution 108 would “decrease the amount an appraisal can rise in value from 10% to 5%,” Krause posted.

House Bill 2403 would reform the process by which an appraisal district’s board of directors—for those districts with a population of more than 120,000—are elected.

Currently, the board of directors is elected by local governments within the area an appraisal district resides. In 2019, Crouch led Tarrant County citizens in a revolution that elected citizen candidates to the Tarrant Appraisal District’s board of directors.

“Right now, some governmental entities that select members for the board of directors play games with the timelines on their selections,” Krause wrote. “By waiting so long in the process, they can artificially tip the scales in favor of their preferred candidates. This bill would require governmental entities to vote on a regularly scheduled basis which will bring transparency to the process.”

Slaton’s House Bill 3171 looks at reforming another aspect: making the chief appraiser of an appraisal district an elected position.

“With this bill, the people will be able to hold their chief appraiser accountable at the ballot box,” said Slaton. “For far too long, property owners across the state have seen rising property taxes with no end in sight. This bill will give voters a tool to help rein in runaway property taxes.”

Crouch offered his thoughts about Slaton’s bill.

“I’m up for change, so I’d never oppose this,” he said, “but I couldn’t support it, either.”

“I’ve considered this idea in the past. It solves some problems but may create others,” he continued. “Above all, we want our chief appraiser to be competent and fair. I think [it’s] better to have a CAD board that is elected through a fair system select the chief appraiser. I’d rather see Krause’s bill to clean up the voting system get passed.”

Finally, there’s House Bill 2944, which Krause says “would make the appraisal process more fair in that any error made by the appraisal district would be in favor of the property owners—not the appraiser.”

“This is a breath of fresh air,” Crouch said of Krause’s bills. “Everybody knows our property tax system is full of flaws, but it’s so complicated, most people get mad and call for changes in all the wrong places.”

These bills address the root causes that are behind massive unfairness in our system. We need to get these passed.

Tim Hardin, executive director of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, shared his thoughts on the status of property tax reform or relief passing into law this session.

“We certainly have seen some encouraging bills filed. But even with great legislation filed, if there is no desire or plan from leadership to focus on property tax reform, there will be no reform,” he said. “In the governor’s emergency items, ad valorem reform was absent. Neither the lieutenant governor nor the speaker has named property tax relief or reform as a priority. There is no legislation dealing with ad valorem taxation in either of the chamber’s top 20 bills, which are typically reserved for priority legislation.”

Without any of the Big Three leading on this issue, I am afraid we might be waiting until the next session for it to be addressed. I think voters will remember next year.

Concerned citizens may contact their state representative or state senator. Legislation can be tracked using Texas Legislature Online.

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Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.