Skip to content
Quick Start for:
Part III:
Appraisal Districts

County appraisal districts (CADs) continue to appraise property with uniform results and close to market value. According to the Texas Comptroller’s 2004 Final Property Value Study, CADs achieved a study result of 99 percent of market value.

State law requires tax appraisals to be equal, uniform and at market value. The median appraisal ratio measures how close an appraisal district’s typical appraisal is to market value.

The coefficient of dispersion (COD) measures appraisal uniformity, whether properties are being appraised at an equal percentage of market value. It does this by measuring how closely the individual ratios are arrayed around the median ratio. The smaller the measure of dispersion, the greater the uniformity of the ratios. Property assessment is more equitable when the ratios are grouped more closely around the median, since properties were assessed similarly across the board. According to the International Association of Assessing Officers “...a coefficient of 10% or less indicates a good distribution of assessments for residential properties. Similarly, a coefficient of 15% or less indicates a good distribution for more diverse classes (of property)...” In 2004, the statewide COD was 11.29, better than the previous year’s 11.38.

Table 14: Statewide Median Appraisal Ratios – 1994 through 2004 Property Value Studies
The table below compares the statewide median appraisal ratios from the 1994 to 2004 Property Value Studies. The statewide median appraisal ratio for an individual property category was calculated using the appraisal ratios of all Property Tax Division sample properties in that category from across the state. The overall statewide median appraisal ratio was calculated using the appraisal ratios for all sample properties.
Property Category 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 20032004
A. Single-family Residences 98% 98% 97% 97% 98% 98% 98% 97% 98% 99% 99%
B. Multi-family Residences 99% 99% 99% 98% 99% 98% 98% 99% 98% 98% 98%
C. Vacant Lots 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
D. Rural Real 100%* 100%* 99%* 98%* 98%* 98%* 98%* 98%* 99%* 99%* 98%
E. Farm & Ranch Improvements * * * * * * * * * * *
F1. Commercial Real 100% 100% 99% 99% 99% 98% 97% 98% 98% 98% 97%
F2. Industrial Real ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
G. Oil, Gas, Minerals 103% 102% 102% 101% 100% 102% 103% 99% 101% 100% 100%
J. Utilities 101% 102% 99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
L1. Commercial Personal 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
L2. Industrial Personal ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
M. Other Personal ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
O. Residential Inventory ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
 OVERALL 99% 100% 99% 99% 99% 99% 99% 99% 100% 99% 99%
* Beginning in 1989, taxable values for Farm & Ranch Improvements (Category E) were merged into Category D with Acreage (market value).
** Too few sample observations were available to produce meaningful statewide median appraisal ratios for these properties.

Table 15 gives the statewide coefficients of dispersion for the same time period for 1994 through 2004.

Table 15: Statewide Coefficients of Dispersion – 1994 through 2004 Property Value Studies
The table below compares the statewide coefficients of dispersion from the 1994 to 2004 Property Value Studies. The statewide coefficient of dispersion for an individual property category was calculated using the appraisal ratios of all Property Tax Division sample properties in that category from across the state. The overall statewide coefficient of dispersion was calculated using the appraisal ratios for all sample properties.
Property Category 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
A. Single-family Residences 10.74 12.11 11.36 11.06 9.68 9.23 10.05 10.68 10.33 9.48 9.57
B. Multi-family Residences 8.38 10.06 8.43 7.71 7.34 7.63 7.70 8.91 8.74 10.49 8.45
C. Vacant Lots 19.27 18.21 19.86 17.10 15.17 13.68 14.79 17.29 18.50 18.07 18.31
D. Rural Real 18.49* 14.92* 14.60* 15.62* 16.09* 14.51* 14.96* 15.64* 15.01* 16.65* 16.52*
E. Farm & Ranch Improvements * * * * * * * * * * *
F1. Commercial Real 12.59 13.28 11.34 11.01 10.51 10.59 10.56 10.39 9.82 10.93 11.37
F2. Industrial Real ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
G. Oil, Gas, Minerals 13.01 12.61 18.95 4.85 7.38 20.52 7.15 31.30 11.50 10.46 9.25
J. Utilities 14.35 12.50 ME 10.76 9.64 12.78 12.26 12.00 11.72 11.66 10.18
L1. Commercial Personal 8.14 11.95 20.73 11.20 9.24 7.52 8.19 8.32 8.44 8.21 9.16
L2. Industrial Personal ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
M. Other Personal ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
O. Residential Inventory ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
 OVERALL 12.86 13.17 13.47 11.64 10.86 11.79 11.53 12.26 11.49 11.38 11.29
*Beginning in 1989, taxable values for Farm & Ranch Improvements (Category E) were merged into Category D with Acreage (market value).
** Too few sample observations were available to produce meaningful statewide coefficients of disperson for these properties.
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division

Appraisal District Workload

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn reports on appraisal district operations in the agency’s Appraisal District Operations Report. Each year the Comptroller’s Property Tax Division (PTD) surveys the 253 appraisal offices to obtain data about final 2004 operations and projected 2005 budgets and plans. Each year’s report is available on the Web at http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/.

In 2004, Texas CADs appraised more than 16 million pieces of property. This was an additional 463,046 properties than were appraised in 2003, a 2.8 percent increase. The CADs performed this task with operating expenses of about $280 million, a 2.9 percent increase from 2003. The result of these appraisals was a reported $1.5 trillion of property value. In contrast, 2003 appraised property totaled $1.4 trillion

Of the 463,046 new property appraisals, the largest increase in 2004 occurred in mineral property. CADs appraised an additional 219,818 accounts (7 percent), for a total of 3,341,011 mineral property accounts. The number of real property accounts increased by 225,034, creating a total of more than 11.7 million accounts. The number of business personal property accounts increased by 26,778, for a total of 1.2 million accounts. Taxable individual personal property decreased by 8,584 accounts, a little more than 5 percent, for a total of 164,573 accounts.

Almost half of Texas’ taxable property accounts are concentrated in 21 of the 253 CADs. Each of these 21 CADs appraises more than 150,000 accounts. Six of these large CADs handled more than 27 percent of all the taxable property accounts in the state. These six districts have more than 300,000 accounts each and include Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, El Paso and Travis CADs.

State law requires CADs to reappraise property in their districts at least once every three years. Many CADs reappraise property every year. For the 2004 tax year 191 CADs, or 75.4 percent, reported complete reappraisals, while 149 CADs planned to reappraise for the 2005 tax year.

CADs mailed over nine million notices of property value in 2004. In response to those notices, property owners filed 784,727 written protests, 4.4 percent more than the 751,292 filed in the previous year on 2003 values.

Some 422,995 of the protesting taxpayers met with CAD staff in informal hearings to attempt a settlement. ARBs scheduled 421,542 formal hearings for these filed protests, an increase of 61,786 hearings or 17.2 percent more hearings than in 2003. About one-third of the taxpayers, 115,363, were “no shows” for their scheduled hearing. Exhibit 5, below, shows the percentage of the appraisals that have been protested over a period of six years.

Taxing units also may file written challenges to the ARB if they disagree with CAD decisions. In 2004, 11 taxing units—compared to four in 2003—filed challenges.

Table 16 highlights the appraisal district workload for the 23-year period from 1982 through 2004.

Table 16: 22-Year Review of Appraisal District Workload
Year Taxable Parcels Appraisal Notices Sent Taxing Unit Challenges ARB Hearings Scheduled
1982 10,811,817 6,509,076 235 52,707
1983 11,736,724 2,978,839 88 33,875
1984 12,206,774 4,629,682 270 151,144
1985 12,568,931 4,731,365 66 91,665
1986 12,803,055 4,428,225 106 125,246
1987 12,786,518 5,054,336 184 163,085
1988 12,937,341 3,977,007 39 170,711
1989 13,225,514 4,160,375 156 157,947
1990 13,139,219 7,191,615 32 178,124
1991 13,518,442 7,199,515 193 209,889
1992 13,320,845 7,465,478 36 196,503
1993 13,546,649 8,383,541 154 166,056
1994 13,723,699 7,810,313 10 218,538
1995 14,099,466 8,241,057 5 195,097
1996 14,304,085 7,654,301 19 189,769
1997 14,617,741 7,586,079 4 149,771
1998 14,847,469 8,160,120 3 189,622
1999 14,756,523 8,743,293 8 248,526
2000 15,022,588 8,420,244 18 234,691
2001 15,385,913 9,364,893 2 306,836
2002 15,618,958 9,068,428 8 379,325
2003 16,007,636 9,088,784 4 359,743
2004 16,470,682 9,161,839 11 421,542
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.

Appraisal District Expenditures

Final 2004 CAD operating expenses totaled $279 million, or an average of $16.95 per appraisal. The average 2004 CAD operating budget exceeded $1 million, 3 percent more in expenses than in 2003.

The 2004 expenditures for individual CADs vary by size and type of property appraised. The lowest cost per appraisal was Jack CAD at $2.14. At the other end, Somerville CAD reported the highest cost at $50.58 per appraisal. This range in operating costs per appraisal reflects the type of property being appraised by each CAD; for example 60 percent of Jack CADs appraisals are mineral properties. Each interest, or share, in a mineral lease represents an account, and while the number of accounts within a lease can be numerous, only one appraisal is necessary per lease (the value is pro-rated among the share holders). Therefore, the costs per account for mineral properties seem unrealistically low. Somervell CAD, on the other hand, is home to the Comanche Peak nuclear facility and has a high concentration of industrial property that requires great expertise to appraise. The higher cost of appraising industrial property is reflected in Somervell’s high cost per parcel.

CAD expenses are paid by local taxing units according to the proportion of their property tax levy to the total property taxes levied by all the taxing units in the CAD. Since local taxing units fund CAD budgets, the taxing units may veto the CAD budget adopted by the CAD’s board of directors. Taxing units in five CADs vetoed their 2005 budget, as allowed by Tex. Prop.Tax Code, § 6.06.

Table 17: 2004 CAD Spending by Size
While the average 2004 cost per account statewide was $16.95, grouping the CADs by account sizes shows the cost per account varies, with the largest group of districts exceeding the state average.
Number of Accounts Number of Districts Average 2004 Expenses Average Cost Per Account
Below 5,000 3 $49,339 $12.47
5,000 to 9,999 26 $123,761 $15.60
10,000 to 14,999 29 $170,088 $13.82
15,000 to 19,999 24 $245,030 $13.90
20,000 to 24,999 16 $307,911 $13.81
25,000 to 34,999 45 $509,606 $16.46
35,000 to 49,999 33 $537,744 $12.68
50,000 to 74,999 31 $725,732 $11.99
75,000 to 149,999 25 $1,585,594 $14.32
150,000 to 300,000 13 $3,146,947 $15.31
Over 300,000 8 $14,553,073 $23.26
Source: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division.