If legislation introduced March 8th by State Senator Drew Springer (R-Weatherford) gets through the legislative gauntlet and is signed into law his bill will snatch away the authority of chief appraisers to sue property owners.
Springer’s Senate Bill 1923 would revise the Tax Code to prevent a chief appraiser who disagrees with a property value assigned by an appraisal review board (ARB) from suing a property owner to appeal. That would be accomplished by repealing the first sentence in Section 42.21(b).
The bill would also bar a chief appraiser from filing a counterclaim against an owner who seeks a trial de novo to challenge his property value assigned by an ARB. That would be accomplished by amending Section 42.23.
Cynthia Martinez, communications director for Travis Central Appraisal District, in response to the Bulldog’s request to comment on SB 1929, emailed this statement: “We’re currently monitoring and evaluating the legislation being proposed this session related to the work of appraisal districts. At this time, we have not adopted a position on this bill.”
Neither Senator Springer nor the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts has responded to the Bulldog’s request to comment for this story.
Travis Central Appraisal District’s chief appraiser has used both of these threatened statutory powers to sue property owners over ARB valuations.
Texas Disposal Systems Landfill
The Bulldog recently published a detailed investigative report of a case in which the TCAD sued Texas Disposal Systems Landfill Inc. (TDSL) under Section 42.02 to appeal the value of the landfill determined by the Travis Appraisal Review Board.
TDSL is represented by Austin attorney Lorri Michel of Michel Gray & Rogers LLP.
The Third Court of Appeals found in TCAD’s favor and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. Instead, in hopes of overturning the appeals court decision, TDSL has petitioned the Texas Supreme Court, where the case is pending. (Cause No. 22-0620.)
Numerous parties—including two state lawmakers—have filed amici curiae briefs in favor of TDSL’s position. (Travis Central Appraisal District v. Texas Disposal Systems Landfill Inc., Cause No. D-1-GN-19-006394.)
Four Seasons Hotel
There is at least one TCAD lawsuit currently in progress in which the chief appraiser has filed a counterclaim against the owners of the Four Seasons Hotel, who had filed for a trial de novo.
TCAD had appraised the property value at $157,880,000 for 2022. Four Seasons through an ARB hearing obtained an order that found the “property’s market value is excessive” and stated the appraisal records should be changed to $154,370,000.
It’s petition for trial de novo states that value is “unequal compared to a reasonable number of other properties similarly situated to, or of the same general kind or character” as the hotel. Further, the petition alleges “that the property is appraised unequally because the appraised value of the property exceeds the median appraised value of a reasonable number of comparable properties appropriately adjusted.”
Four Seasons Hotel is represented by attorney Carolyn Chinn Maly, a shareholder in the Dallas office of Geary Porter & Donovan PC. She has not responded to email and voice mail requests to comment for this story.
TCAD’s counterclaim argues that the “market or appraised value” of the hotel property is greater than the value determined by the ARB.
Trust indicators: Ken Martin has been covering local government and politics in the Austin area since 1981 and investigating and reporting on Travis Central Appraisal District since 2011. See more about Ken on the About page. Email [email protected].
SHR FS Austin LLC (Four Seasons) original petition for trial de novo, September 19, 2022 (6 pages) 091922 Petition
Defendant Travis Central Appraisal District original answer, specific denial, and counterclaim, October 5, 2022 (9 pages) 100522 Counter
Order Determining Protest of SHR FS Austin LLC, July 30, 2022 (4 pages) 192836 Order
Plaintiff SHR FS Austin’s answer, plea to jurisdiction and affirmative defense to defendant’s counterclaim, November 7, 2022 (4 pages) 110722 4 Sea Ans
Senate Bill 1923 by Senator Drew Springer, (2 pages) SB 1923
Related Bulldog coverage:
Appeals court decision draws widespread condemnation, February 28, 2023
Judge undercuts chief appraiser’s authority, February 17, 2020
TCAD loses Catherine Tower lawsuits at cost of nearly $850.000, July 23, 2019
TCAD loses landfill lawsuit at cost of nearly $1 million, July 16, 2019
I really believe that TCAD is trying to get rid of the ARB.
Keep up the good work Ken!
Thanks Jo Ann, but appraisal review boards are established in the Tax Code, so not subject to being eliminated by the appraisal district. That said, you may have seen my recent story that reported a radical reduction in the number of ARB positions authorized in the TCAD budget. https://theaustinbulldog.org/travis-appraisal-review-board-members-pared/