Jim Wells County Appraisal District held a heated public board of directors meeting on Wednesday, Oct.16.

People from the community voiced their concerns about the dissatisfaction with last years' property appraisal market values and the district's decision to hire Eagle Appraisal Services - a third party appraisal firm to help the district due to lack of staffing. The public comments all surrounded the property value increase hikes and the appraisal districts lack of commitment to hire locally staffed appraisers.

“Foreclosures are at an all time high. I've been a realtor for19 years and I've never seen so many foreclosures as there is now,” said Alice real estate agent Cynthia Carrasco. "I used to only see about four a year -now it’s at least four to five a quarter. Alice is a unique area it's not like San Antonio or Corpus Christi; there's many variables when appraising the area's property values.”

President of Eagle Appraisal Services, Gary Zeitler presented at the meeting and defended his appraisals for the district and the laws he follows under his license. He also said to inquire on a second year contract and his company's role.

“This appraisal board is mandated by law to create an appraisal district to oversee and manage appraising property,” Zeiter said. “Our company came in late in the year with not a lot of information to go on. You still haven’t hired any appraisers -I just need to know if I send my appraisers somewhere else.”

A resolution was passed by the Alice City Council this year requesting the Appraisal District not to hire third party firms for mass appraisals in the area and to hire within. A resolution is not binding, but is a recommendation for the public concern.

“The district has not hired any additional appraisers at this time. We are actively trying to hire licensed experienced appraisers,” said Jim Wells County Chief Appraiser Sidney Vela. “We raised the salary for the position to try to attract someone. It's been difficult finding someone experienced and licensed to move to a rural area. We will hopefully try to have someone hired by the end of the year.”