II. Qualifications, Appointment and Oaths
Who can serve?
To serve on the ARB, you must have lived in the appraisal district for at least two years before taking office. You do not need any special qualifications, but you may not serve on the board if you are:
- a current appraisal district director;
- a current employee or chief appraiser of the appraisal district;
- a current board member, employee or officer of a taxing unit served by the appraisal district; or
- a current employee of the Comptroller of Public Accounts.
In counties having populations of 100,000 or less, a person who has served all or part of three consecutive terms as an ARB member or auxiliary member is ineligible to serve a fourth consecutive term, but may be appointed thereafter.
If you reside in an appraisal district serving a county with a population of more than 100,000 – appraisal district and county boundaries are the same – you have additional restrictions for service as an ARB member. You may not serve as an ARB member:
- if you served for all or part of three previous terms as a board member or an auxiliary board member on the ARB;
- if you were a former appraisal district director;
- if you were a former employee or former officer of the appraisal district;
- if you ever appeared before the ARB for compensation; or
- until the fourth anniversary of the date you ceased to serve as a member or officer of a taxing unit for which the appraisal district appraises property.
In all counties, you also may not serve as an ARB member if you are closely related to a person who operates for compensation as a tax agent or is in the business of appraising property for property tax purposes in the appraisal district. Relatives barred are those within the second degree by consanguinity (blood) or affinity (marriage). If you knowingly violate this provision, you commit a Class B misdemeanor. Appendix Y lists these relatives.
The law also bars you from ARB service if you have a contract with the appraisal district or with a taxing unit in the appraisal district. The bar applies if you or a business entity in which you have a substantial interest contracts with the appraisal district or a taxing unit that participates in the appraisal district. Likewise, the same taxing units and the appraisal district are each prohibited from contracting with an ARB member or a business entity in which an ARB member has a substantial interest . Substantial interest is defined as either:
- combined ownership by the member or the member's spouse of at least 10 percent of the voting stock or shares of the business; or
- service by the member or the member's spouse as a partner, limited partner or officer in the business entity.
You also may not serve if you hold some other paid public office. The Texas Constitution does not allow a person to hold more than one paid public office. Your legal counsel should be contacted to interpret what constitutes a paid position or whether a public officer is receiving compensation.
The Tax Code also disqualifies a person from serving on an ARB if the person owns property on which delinquent property taxes have been owed for more than 60 days after the date the person knew or should have known of the delinquency. This restriction does not apply if the person is paying the delinquent taxes under an installment payment agreement or has deferred or abated a suit to collect delinquent taxes.
In addition, although you may serve as an ARB member, you may not participate in any hearings until you have completed an ARB training course authorized by the Comptroller of Public Accounts. The Comptroller will issue a certificate indicating that you have completed the required training. If you are appointed to the ARB after the Comptroller has offered ARB training courses for that year, the law does provide that you may serve and participate in hearings as long as you complete the next Comptroller training course offered.
Finally, ARB members should be aware of laws that require mandatory training for public officials on the Texas Open Meetings Act and Public Information Act. The laws require at least two hours of open government training, consisting of a one-hour educational course on the Open Meetings Act and one-hour educational course on the Texas Public Information Act.
The Open Meetings Act training requirement applies to all elected or appointed officials who routinely participate in meetings subject to that law as part of their regular duties; this includes ARB members. The Public Information Act training requirement applies to elected or appointed officials who respond to public information requests. ARB's may wish to consult with their legal counsel about whether members must take this training as well.
The Office of the Attorney General will provide free training for all public officials through both online and video courses. The attorney general's free training videos are available for viewing on their Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us/opinopen/og_training.shtml#11. Officials may obtain a free DVD copy of the training courses by calling the Attorney General's Public Information and Assistance line at (800) 252-8011.
ARB members have 90 days within which to complete the required training. ARB members who previously completed the open government training are not required to take "refresher" courses.
Appointing ARB members – size and terms
The appraisal district directors appoint ARB members by majority vote and record their decision in a resolution. The appraisal district directors determine the number of ARB members to serve on the ARB, with a statutory minimum of three members. The appraisal district board may decide to change the number of ARB members annually.
Members serve two-year staggered terms; approximately half the members' terms expire each year. Terms begin Jan.1.
Terms are limited by the size of the population in the county served by the appraisal district. A person in an appraisal district serving a county with a population of more than 100,000 may not serve more than all or part of three terms on the ARB. After completing the third term, the person may never serve on the ARB in that county again.
This three-term limit includes appointments as either a regular ARB member or temporary ARB member.
In any other appraisal district, a person may not serve more than all or part of three consecutive terms on the ARB. Persons who have served three consecutive terms are only ineligible for ARB membership during the term that starts on the next Jan. 1 following the third of those terms. In other words, the ex-member must sit out at least one full ARB term to be eligible to serve again. After that time, the board of directors may reappoint the person. This term limit includes appointment as either a regular ARB member or an auxiliary ARB member.
Policy for temporary ARB members
The Tax Code provides that appraisal district directors may appoint temporary replacement ARB members in one specific situation. The directors must adopt and put into action a policy for temporarily replacing an ARB member who cannot sign the "ex parte" affidavit. At each protest hearing, an ARB member must sign an affidavit that the member has not communicated about the protest without all parties being present. If an ARB member cannot sign the affidavit, the ARB member cannot hear the protest on that property. Temporary ARB members may not be used for any purpose other than replacing removed members. The Tax Code does not set how many temporary ARB members that the appraisal district board may appoint.
The board of directors is required to develop a temporary replacement policy. For example, if the ARB has enough members to place one regular ARB member on a panel needing a temporary member, the board of director's policy may choose to use current members as temporary panel replacements. On the other hand, a board of director's policy may prefer to designate a number of eligible individuals to serve only as temporary replacements for removed members.
When developing its policy, the board of directors should remember that a temporary replacement:
- is an ARB member;
- must meet all ARB member eligibility requirements;
- must take the oath of office and sign the required statement (discussed below) before serving on the board; and
- should be appointed for a term of the same length as regular ARB members.
Temporary members may not serve on the ARB in any other capacity. Specifically, a temporary member serves only when a regular member cannot sign the affidavit and is removed from a hearing.
The term limitation that applies to ARB members also applies to temporary ARB members. The time that an individual serves as a temporary ARB member counts toward the regular term limitation. Temporary ARB members also must complete the Comptroller training course.
ARB appointment veto
Taxing units that vote for appraisal district directors may disapprove the appointment of an ARB member. To do so, a majority of the voting taxing units – county, schools, cities and conservation and reclamation districts in some cases – must pass a veto resolution within 15 days after the appraisal district board appoints the member.
ARB member removal
Under certain circumstances, appraisal district directors may remove ARB members by majority vote. Tax Code Section 6.41 requires the appraisal district board of directors to adopt a specific procedure for the removal of ARB members.
The directors may remove an ARB member for violating Section 6.412 (ARB member's relative is an appraiser or tax agent appearing before the ARB) or Section 6.413 (ARB member is related to someone with a substantial interest in an appraisal district or taxing unit contract). Appendix Y lists the relatives barred under Sections 6.412 and 6.413.
The directors may remove an ARB member for failing to attend ARB meetings as established by the appraisal district board's policy. The appraisal district directors must include in their written policy the number of meetings an ARB member may fail to attend before the directors have grounds for removing the ARB member.
The directors may remove an ARB member for violating Section 41.66 – an ex parte communication about a protest outside of the hearing. The directors may also remove an ARB member who participates in a hearing when the ARB member has a conflict of interest or is related to a party of the hearing by affinity within the second degree or by consanguinity by the third degree (Section 41.69).
Generally, an ARB may reside in any office it chooses, limited only by its budgetary constraints. Most ARBs meet at the appraisal district office.
Pay for ARB members
ARB members are generally paid by the day and reimbursed for expenses. The appraisal district directors set the amount of payment in the budget. However, some appraisal districts do not budget to reimburse ARB members for their expenses.
Oath of office
Newly appointed and reappointed ARB members must sign a statement and take an oath of office before beginning a term. Jan. 1 of the year in which the term begins is the earliest date the oath may be administered. ARB members must be properly sworn before taking any official action.
ARB members must take two separate steps. First, the ARB member must sign a statement and file it with the appraisal district office before taking the oath of office.
Appraisal districts retain the statement. The Secretary of State's Statutory Documents Division has Form #2201 and Form #2204 available online at www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/statforms.shtml#AUF.
Once the ARB member has signed the statement, the member may take the oath of office. The forms read as follows:
The ARB member must take and sign the oath before a notary public, county clerk, judge or other official authorized to administer oaths of office.
When the ARB has its first meeting, it must select officers. A presiding officer must be elected and has responsibility for ensuring that hearings are conducted properly and procedures are followed. A secretary must also be selected to send required notices, ensure that meetings are posted, and keep official minutes or tapes of ARB proceedings. Many of these responsibilities may be delegated to appraisal district or ARB staff.
While the law only requires the selection of a presiding officer and a secretary, the ARB may determine that other officers are needed in order to conduct its business. If so, the officers should be designated in ARB rules or procedures.
The ARB may meet at any time at the call of the presiding officer or as provided by ARB rules or procedures. The ARB must meet to examine the appraisal records within 10 days after the date the chief appraiser submits appraisal records to it.