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Appraisal officials grilled by citizens

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The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - A packed house of angry homeowners grilled two of the top Ellis Central Appraisal District officials at a recent Taxpayers Alliance for Good Government meeting.

Chief Appraiser Kathy Rodrique and Executive Chairman Phillip Lynch spent nearly three hours Tuesday, May 27 at the Waxahachie Civic Center to educate residents on increased property values and told them they were representing the people's best interests.

'They [Lynch, Rodrique] don't have the nerve to stand up and tell us they're advocates of the people when increased appraisals are obvious,' said one audience member.

Lynch chairs the powerful ECAD committee overseeing the Appraisal Review Board, a volunteer-only board consisting of city and school district appointees responsible for hearing the complaints and protests of thousands of property owners.

'These people [Appraisal Review Board] are appointed by, and hired by, the taxing entities. They're going to dance to the tone of the tax entities fiddles,' the resident continued.

Much criticism has been directed at the ARB because of the treatment residents have received.

However, Lynch did say there would be attitude changes, and was quick to point out that it's not appraisal districts who tax people and collect revenue.

'Don't blame us,' he said. 'It's the city, school, and county who does that.'

Lynch did most of the talking, but come Question & Answer time, Rodrique chimed in.

'Now are we automatically going out and increasing market value? Absolutely not,' Rodrique said. 'We are reflecting the market value that's going on in your marketplace. We're required by law to do [two values].'

Rodrique said there are differences between the market value, or Fair Market Value, and taxable value; the taxable value listed on each property is what cities and school districts - plus the county - uses to levy their yearly tax rates.

The overall purpose of appraisal districts and values is to ensure each district receives full school funding, she said.

'Now who objects to full school funding?' Rodrique asked before a handful of residents replied, 'I do.'

If appraisals aren't up with the current market, Rodrique said the state could be forced to withhold school district funds.

Lynch said ECAD sued the state comptroller's office several years ago after they refused to fund four Ellis County school districts. The comptroller, basically the state's chief appraiser, will dispatch what Lynch called, 'stealth appraisers' to inspect properties and see to it that the law is being followed.

Additionally, Lynch and Rodrique recommended residents get involved with their local city, school district and county budgetary meetings. Each year, those entities are required - typically around September or October - to set the fiscal year's budget and tax rate.

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