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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
November 3, 2008

Comptroller Susan Combs to Reshape Property Tax Division,
Re-emphasize Customer Service

(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs today announced changes to ensure efficiency and transparency in her agency’s property tax functions and provide much-needed assistance to appraisal districts.

Combs has renamed the Property Tax Division the Property Tax Assistance Division. It will move out of the Local Government Assistance and Economic Analysis Division and become a stand-alone division at the Comptroller’s office.

“The division’s new name and independent identity reflect a renewed emphasis on one of our key responsibilities — providing technical assistance to local school districts and county appraisal districts to help them comply with property tax laws and use property appraisal methods that produce accurate results,” Combs said. “Through more outreach and education, we will work with taxpayers who are sometimes confused by property taxes and appraisals set by the local districts. Taxpayers have the right for their concerns to be heard.”

Combs also plans revisions to the annual Property Value Study (PVS), which measures the taxable value of property within school districts, which is then used to determine the amount of state funding distributed to Texas school districts. To the extent possible, additional adjusted property sales data will be used and fewer property appraisals will be conducted for the PVS. This shift in study focus will free up personnel to assist appraisal districts in their work. Only one state in the nation does not do a PVS.

“It is very important that we continue to perform an independent, outside evaluation of local property values through the PVS in its new approach,” Combs said. “The study provides checks and balances to ensure property is appraised at market value, property taxes are levied fairly and tax revenues are sufficient to provide a quality public education for Texas children.”

School districts and county appraisal districts that disagree with the results of the PVS have a right to appeal. Combs announced that effective Nov. 3, those appeals will be conducted by the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), rather than hearing examiners within the Comptroller’s office. Combs made a similar change when she shifted tax case appeals to the neutral SOAH in January 2007.

“The same principle applies,” Combs said. “Anyone who disagrees with a decision by our office deserves a fair and impartial hearing. Moving PVS appeals to SOAH removes any appearance of bias and ensures that the integrity of the appeal process is beyond question.”

To set the changes in motion, Combs has hired Comal County Tax Assessor-Collector Sherman Krause as the assistant director of the Property Tax Assistance Division.

“As Comal County tax assessor and chairman of the Comal Appraisal District Board of Directors, Sherman Krause knows first-hand how challenging it can be for local governments to carry out complex property tax laws and state reporting requirements,” Combs said. “He has the knowledge and experience to help our Property Tax Assistance Division fulfill its responsibilities to inform and advise local governments and taxpayers about property tax issues.”

Sherman Krause was elected Comal County Tax Assessor-Collector in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004.

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