Qualification, Appointment and Oath
Who can serve
To serve on the ARB, an individual must have lived in the appraisal district for at least two years before taking office. ARB members do not need any special qualifications, but they may not serve on the ARB if, at the time of service, they are the following:
- members of the appraisal district board of directors;
- employees of the appraisal district;
- board members, employees or officers of a taxing unit served by the appraisal district; or
- employees of the Comptroller of Public Accounts.
A member of a governing body or officer of a taxing unit for which the appraisal district appraises property is barred from service on the ARB until the fourth anniversary of the date when he or she stops serving in that capacity.
An individual cannot serve as an ARB member if he or she is related within the second degree by blood or marriage to a paid tax agent or person engaged in appraising property for tax purposes in the appraisal district. Knowingly violating this provision is a Class B misdemeanor. Exhibit 2 provides detail on degrees of consanguinity (blood relations) and affinity (marriage relations).
Chart of Kinship for Appraisal Personnel
Degrees of Consanguinity and Affinity Prohibitions
Restrictions on Eligibility of Chief Appraisers, Directors, Appraisal Review Board Members and Others
The law also bars an individual from ARB service if he or she, or a business entity in which he or she has a substantial interest, has a contract with the appraisal district or with a taxing unit served by the appraisal district. Likewise, the taxing units and the appraisal district are 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.
An individual is also barred from serving on the ARB if he or she holds some other paid public office. The Texas Constitution does not allow a person to hold more than one paid public office. ARB members should contact legal counsel to interpret what constitutes a paid position or whether a public officer is receiving compensation.
The Tax Code 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.
Appointing the ARB – size and terms
The appraisal district directors, except in counties with a population of 3.3 million or more and adjacent counties with populations of 350,000 or more (exception counties), appoint ARB members. The boards of directors of two or more adjoining appraisal districts may operate a consolidated ARB by interlocal agreement. The appraisal district board of directors determines the number of ARB members to serve on the ARB, with a statutory minimum of three members.
In the exception counties, the administrative district judge (the judge) appoints the ARB members. The judge may make ARB appointments directly or may, by written order, appoint from three to five persons to perform the duties of ARB commissioners. If the judge chooses to appoint ARB commissioners, each commissioner must have the same qualifications as those required of an ARB member. ARB commissioners serve a one-year term beginning Jan. 1. The judge may reappoint ARB commissioners to successive terms at his or her discretion.
ARB commissioners are not disqualified from serving as a member of the ARB. They meet to perform their duties as directed by the judge. The county's appraisal district must provide the judge or the ARB commissioners, as the case may be, the number of positions that require appointment to the ARB. The appraisal district must also provide the judge or ARB commissioners any reasonable assistance they request.
ARB commissioners must provide a list of proposed ARB members to the judge when requested by the judge, but no later than Jan. 1 of each year. The list must include at least five more names than the number of ARB positions to be filled. The judge may accept the proposed names, or reject the list and return it to the ARB commissioners. If the judge rejects the list, the ARB commissioners must propose a new list until it is acceptable to the judge. When the judge is satisfied with the list presented to him or her by the ARB commissioners, the judge will enter an order designating the individuals as members of the ARB.
ARB members in all counties serve two-year staggered terms; approximately half the members' terms expire each year. Terms begin Jan.1. The appraisal district board of directors must adopt a resolution providing for staggered terms, so that the terms of approximately as close to one-half of the members as possible expire each year. In making the initial or subsequent appointments, the board of directors or, in the exception counties, the judge or the judge's designee must indicate which members are to serve one-year terms required to comply with the staggered provisions of the law.
In counties having a population of 100,000 or less, a person who has served all or part of three consecutive terms as an ARB member is ineligible to serve a fourth consecutive term, but may be appointed thereafter if he or she sits out at least one full ARB term in order to be eligible to serve again. In counties with a population of more than 100,000, members can only serve the three consecutive terms.
Taxing units that vote for appraisal district directors may disapprove certain appraisal district board of directors' actions, including the appointment of an ARB member. To do so, a majority of a voting taxing unit's governing body must pass a resolution within 15 days after the appraisal district board appoints the member.
ARB member removal
Under certain circumstances, a majority of the appraisal district directors may remove ARB members. In the exception counties, the judge or the judge's designee may remove an ARB member appointed by them. While the law does not require the appraisal district board of directors to adopt a specific procedure for the removal of ARB members, it may be good practice.
The appraisal district board of directors may remove an ARB member for the following reasons:
- ARB member's relative is a fee appraiser or tax agent appearing before the ARB;
- ARB member owes delinquent property taxes under certain circumstances;
- ARB member or certain relatives have a substantial interest in an appraisal district or taxing unit contract;
- ARB member is involved in an ex parte communication about a protest outside of the hearing;
- ARB member participates in a hearing when he or she has a conflict of interest or is related to a party of the hearing by marriage within the second degree or by blood within the third degree; or
- ARB member fails to attend ARB meetings as established by the appraisal district board's policy.
ARB members can find throughout the Tax Code directives that define the limits of their authority. In addition, the ARB should conform to the highest ethical standards. The Code of Judicial Conduct (Exhibit 3) governs the conduct of judges and may serve as a guide for ARB members.
Code of Judicial Conduct*
Our legal system is based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern us. The role of the judiciary is central to American concepts of justice and the rule of law. Intrinsic to all sections of this Code of Judicial Conduct are the precepts that judges, individually and collectively, must respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system. The judge is an arbiter of facts and law for the resolution of disputes and a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law.
The Code of Judicial Conduct is not intended as an exhaustive guide for the conduct of judges. They should also be governed in their judicial and personal conduct by general ethical standards. The Code is intended, however, to state basic standards which should govern the conduct of all judges and provide guidance to assist judges in establishing and maintaining high standards of judicial and personal conduct.
* The Code of Judicial Conduct includes eight Canons; the last two are procedural in nature and are not included here. Each Canon is described in much greater detail at http://www.courts.state.tx.us/Judethics/canons.asp.
Source: Office of Court Administration, 2011
Appointment of temporary ARB members
The Tax Code allows appraisal district directors to appoint temporary replacement ARB members in only one situation: when an ARB member cannot sign an ex parte affidavit. At each protest hearing, an ARB member must sign an affidavit that the member has not communicated about certain elements of the protest with another person except during the hearing on the protest. If an ARB member cannot sign the affidavit, the ARB member cannot hear the protest on that property.
The Tax Code does not set out a process for naming a replacement; the appraisal district's board of directors' policy on appointing ARB members should provide for naming temporary ARB members. 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.
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. After the ARB member signs the required statement (Exhibit 4) and takes the oath of office (Exhibit 5), he or she files the statement with the appraisal district office.
Form 2201, Statement of Elected/Appointed Officer
Source: Texas Secretary of State
Form 2204, Oath of Office
Source: Texas Secretary of State
The Secretary of State's Statutory Documents Division provides forms for this purpose online at www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/statforms.shtml#AUF.
Pay and training for ARB members
ARB members are entitled to be paid by the day (per diem). They are also entitled to reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties. The appraisal district should provide for these expenses in its budget.
ARB members must complete this training course before participating in any hearings unless the ARB member is appointed after the Comptroller's office has offered ARB training courses for that year. In such a situation, the ARB member may participate in hearings but must complete the training course at the first opportunity after the appointment. ARB members must also complete annual continuing education training each year they remain on the ARB. The Comptroller's office issues a certificate to ARB members who complete the required training.
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 from the Office of the Attorney General.
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 including ARB members. The Public Information Act training requirement applies to elected or appointed officials who respond to public information requests. ARB members have 90 days to complete the required training and need take the course only once. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) provides free training for all public officials through both online and video courses available for viewing on their Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us/opinopen/og_training.shtml#11. Officials may obtain a free digital video disc (DVD) copy of the training courses by calling the OAG's Public Information and Assistance line at (800) 252-8011.
The board of directors of the appraisal district, by resolution, selects a chairman and a secretary from among the ARB members. If possible, the board of directors of the appraisal district should appoint a chairman of the ARB who has a background in law and property appraisal.
The ARB presiding officer has responsibility for ensuring that hearings are conducted properly and procedures are followed. A secretary should send required notices, ensure that meetings are posted and keep official minutes or tapes of ARB proceedings. 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.