Anderson County Appraisal District
Appraisal Standards Review Follow-Up Report
Mr. Paul Barnett, Board Chairman
Mr. W. Carson Wages, Chief Appraiser
Anderson County Appraisal District
P.O. Box 279
Palestine, Texas 75801-0279
Dear Chairman Barnett and Chief Appraiser Wages:
This letter constitutes the Comptroller’s follow-up review of the Appraisal Standards Review (ASR) of Anderson County Appraisal District (Anderson CAD) originally released in August 2005. We commend the cooperation of Anderson CAD’s board, chief appraiser and staff in conducting this follow-up review.
CADs play an integral part in setting property values because they have the statutory responsibility for determining local property values, which in turn affect funding to public schools.
The ASR made 12 recommendations to help Anderson CAD achieve accurate local value in the annual Property Value Study and improve operations. The Comptroller acknowledges the work Anderson CAD has performed over the last year. The CAD has completed recommendations 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 12. These completed recommendations have assisted the CAD in improving its staffing, management and appraisal practices.
We also reviewed the implementation of the remaining recommendations. While work is in progress, Anderson CAD has not implemented recommendation 4, and recommendations 7 and 11 are in progress. Enclosed is more detail on what the CAD still needs to do.
The Comptroller’s office will continue to monitor CAD operations and require quarterly reports until the CAD has implemented all recommendations. Anderson CAD must implement the recommendations within one year.
This letter is available on our Window on State Government Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/cadreports/asr/anderson01/.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.
cc: Superintendent and Board of Trustees, Cayuga Independent School District; Elkhart Independent
School District; Frankston Independent School District; Neches Independent School District;
Palestine Independent School District; Slocum Independent School District; and
Westwood Independent School District
Anderson CAD Board of Directors
What Remains to Be Done
The Comptroller’s office will continue to monitor the Anderson CAD’s progress toward meeting the state’s legal requirements. The following outlines steps the CAD still needs to take.
Develop an implementation plan and timeline to complete the integration of the district’s appraisal and geographic information systems.
This recommendation has not been implemented. Although the chief appraiser has prepared a cost analysis that limited the implementation, the chief appraiser has not developed a plan or timeline.
Anderson CAD currently uses a stand-alone mapping system that the chief appraiser feels functions adequately for appraisal district staff. Additionally, the CAD maintains paper ownership maps, updated with splits and ownership changes. Anderson CAD staff estimates the current stand-alone geographic information system (GIS) is about 90 percent complete and the CAD is continuing to update and make changes to base maps in the system. According to the chief appraiser, the “mapping department does create new accounts when a property is converted to subdivision or split from a larger property. Deeds are worked through the mapping department.”
The city of Palestine has a similar mapping system. The CAD and city share information and training for staff. The chief appraiser stated that the cost to integrate the mapping is approximately $150,000, although he has not solicited formal bids.
The 2005 ASR of the Anderson CAD pointed out the issues associated with not integrating the appraisal system with the GIS and the CAD’s goals:
Since the systems have not been integrated, appraisers have to access the data from the appraisal system via an appraisal card and physically match it to a manual map of the individual property. This makes completion of an appraisal longer and less efficient. An integrated system will allow appraisers to locate property faster, perform a more detailed review of the property more often, and better document appraisals of similar properties.
The district’s goal is to integrate the appraisal system with the GIS. Once integrated, the system will allow appraisers to visually analyze properties in relation to nearby properties and their traits and characteristics that influence value. The system will allow the appraiser to access all the data needed in order to analyze sales and make comparisons to similar properties. The integrated system will allow appraisers to make more accurate appraisals since the appraiser will be able to review all of the available data on the property as it is layered over an actual photograph or map of the property. This will ease compliance with Section 23.01 of the Tax Code, which requires appraisers to consider the individual property characteristics of a property in performing an appraisal.
Because information technology, including computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) systems and GIS, is a critical part of appraisal district operations, the CAD should develop goals, long-range planning and timelines to help ensure it is capable of maintaining pace with technology and providing appropriate resources. The CAD should develop a plan and timeline to integrate its appraisal system and GIS and present the plan and timeline to PTD for completion of this recommendation by Dec. 31, 2007.
Use only current appraisal schedules or trend and depreciation tables to verify renditions and appraise personal property accounts.
The CAD relies on outdated schedules and renditions to value personal property. The chief appraiser stated that the CAD subscribes to Marshall & Swift which, when received, will allow it to integrate schedules with its existing appraisal software. Additionally, the CAD hired an outside consultant to update all schedules by neighborhood. The chief appraiser stated that he expects all updates will be complete before the May 4, 2008, mailing of notices.
To complete this recommendation the district should complete procurement of the Marshall & Swift personal property module by Mar. 31, 2008.
Develop an appraisal procedures manual to include instructions on how to apply the appraisal and depreciation tables, gather property data and an explanation of how the cost tables and any modifiers were developed and how and when to use modifiers.
The Operations Manual contains a section entitled Appraisal Methods and Procedures. This section is primarily language from the Property Tax Code with some brief local procedures. It does not contain operations specific to Anderson CAD, but instead copies pertinent sections of the Property Tax Code and Comptroller Rules or just generally outlines what operation is done.
After a review of the preliminary draft of the follow-up report, the chief appraiser commented that the Property Tax Code and Comptroller’s Rules are what the CAD should follow and that “each appraiser here does multiple tasks; after they do their field inspections [they] return to the office and enter all the data to record the opinions of value on each property.” The tasks are not documented in the operations manual. Section 04.02 of the manual, under the heading Appraisal Procedures Outlined, states, “The same appraisal procedures are applied during a reappraisal or a non-reappraisal year with the exception of those special provisions specifically outlined in the manual.” The manual does not describe how the procedure is done or who is responsible for doing the procedure.
The manual does not contain information on daily operations such as purchasing, accounting, payroll or contracting.
To comply with this recommendation, the CAD should evaluate all major CAD functions and develop local procedures for each. An operations manual should address the day-to-day operations. An effective policy and procedures manual for appraisal district operations should be divided by department and include detailed, systematic local procedures for each department function. The manual should also document which staff member is responsible for each task. The CAD should provide a copy of the revised operations manual no later than Mar. 31, 2008.