Due to a shortage of appraisers, the Jim Wells County Appraisal District hired an outside appraisal service agency to do a "mass appraisal" which resulted in an increase of values and several unhappy people including an appraisal board member.
J. Sidney Vela, JWC Chief Appraiser, recommended the board hire Eagle Appraisal Services as a third party contractor, but nobody knew the results of this recommendation would be until the property values for Alice Independent School District, outside of the city limits, were certified.
When two of appraisers left, the remaining two appraisers would not be able to do the mass appraisal along with their other duties and that's why the board hired Eagle Appraisal Services.
The results property values increased by 39.53 percent, according to JWC Appraisal District Board member Newell Atkinson.
At a JWC Appraisal District board meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Atkinson made a presentation regarding the appraisal process. He stated that the increased values were exceptionally high.
"Bottom line is that Eagle increased (property values by) 39.53 percent. I agree with that as to the difference between the notices that went out and what the 2018 numbers were. That is a sizable increase...," Atkinson said.
The 2019 certified value for Alice ISD, outside of the city limits of Alice, for improvement value only, is $263,390,659 and of that value $24,284,923 is the value of new or omitted property that is being assessed for the first time in 2019, according to emails sent from Vela sent to Atkinson.
Those emails included that 2018 total improvement values only for Alice ISD, outside of the Alice city limits, was $196,457,651 and in 2019, at the time when appraisal notices were mailed out in May, values were at $274,132,586. A difference of $77,674,935 or 39.53 percent increase.
According to Vela, the appraisal district has been doing mass appraisals since 1981 based on outside appearances only. Vela reminded the board and those in attendance that properties valued are chosen at random and are never the same from year to year.
There is an appraisal system for property owners to protest the values given to them, but according to Atkinson, only 10 percent protested.
"What about the other 90 percent who didn't protest...," Atkinson asked. "I am highly opposed to any additional hiring of contractors. I think we got a good dose right here. I understand that myself and everybody (on the board) voted to hire them. Course, in (our) defense we had no idea what the results were going to be. Now we know."
In order not to have this issue again, Atkinson and Margarito "Maggie" Perez, board member, believes that the board needs to hire appraisers as soon as possible.
"All this would've been avoided if we just had employees in place...Let's hire people so we can get this taken care of and that way this issue doesn't happen again," Perez said.
According to Vela, anyone who wanted to protest their property values had 30 days after receiving a letter in May about their property values.
"There's nothing we can do now," he stated. "Letters were sent out May 10th. Any protest on appraisal values should have been done within 30 days of receiving the letter."
However, Sidney also said that there are two ways that some people could still protest, but they would have to do before February. The two ways is is the appraisal district failed to send you a notice that they should've sent you about your appraisal values and - two - if the property is more than 33 1/3 percent more than what it should of been.
While nothing can be done now, the board hopes to avoid the high appraisal values next year by having inside appraisers to the job. The next appraisal process with being inside the Alice city limits in September.