Overview of County Appraisal District
County History and Demographics
According to the Handbook of Texas, Brazoria County was formed in 1836 with Brazoria as the county seat, which lasted until 1896 when Angleton became the county seat. Angleton is located at the intersection of State Hwy 35 and 228B.
Brazoria County is on the prairie of the Gulf Coast at the mouth of the Brazos River in Southeast Texas and is bordered by Matagorda, Fort Bend, Harris and Galveston counties. The county covers 1,407 square miles and the center of the county lies near the county seat of Angleton.
In 1947 the county ranked fourth in the state in timber production. More recently, the petrochemical industry and mineral resources including oil, gas, sulfur, salt, lime, sand and gravel, concentrated in the Damon Mound-West Columbia-Freeport area, have dominated the county economy.
The population of the county for 2003, according to the County Information Project, was estimated at 263,249 residents, with the City of West Columbia having 4,284, the City of Sweeny having 3,658, the City of Surfside Beach having 777, the City of Richwood having 3,147, the City of Quintana having 38, the City of Pearland 45,295, the City of Oyster Creek having 1,240, the City of Manvel having 3,234, the City of Liverpool having 415, the City of Lake Jackson having 26,950, the City of Jones Creek Village having 2,158, the City of Iowa Colony Village having 884, the City of Holiday Lakes having 1,123, the City of Hillcrest Village having 731, the City of Freeport having 12,715, the City of Danbury having 1,646, the City of Clute having 10,704, the City of Brookside Village having 2,027, the City of Brazoria having 2,842, the City of Bonney Village having 416, the City of Bailey's Prairie Village having 707, the City of Angleton having 18,625 and the City of Alvin having 21,978. The balance 97,555 residents of the county population live in smaller cities and towns and the rural areas.
The county includes: the Alvin Independent School District, Angleton Independent School District, Danbury Independent School District, Brazosport Independent School District, Sweeny Independent School District, Columbia-Brazoria Independent School District, Pearland Independent School District and Damon Independent School District.
Appraisal District Organization and Staffing
The appraisal district was formed in 1981 and became active in 1982. Brazoria CAD has a total of 40 full time staff positions, with 10 supervisory positions, and two vacant clerk positions. Brazoria CAD also has an additional five part time or seasonal positions. Full time appraisers comprise 16 of the positions, along with two seasonal or part time appraisers. Brazoria CAD contracts with Hugh L. Landrum and Associates (HLL&A) for professional appraisal services on mineral, utilities and industrial appraisals. The current board of directors and district organization chart is shown in Exhibit 1.
Scope of Office
The board of directors has no authority to set values or appraisal methods. The chief appraiser carries out the appraisal district's legal duties, hires the staff, makes the appraisals and operates the appraisal office.
The district provides appraisal services for 65 active taxing units including Brazoria County in the following ISDs: Alvin, Angleton, Danbury, Brazosport, Sweeny, Columbia-Brazoria, Pearland, Damon, the following cities and towns: Angleton, Brazoria, Danbury, Liverpool, Pearland, Richwood, Sweeny, West Columbia, Alvin, Clute, Freeport, Lake Jackson, Brookside Village, Oyster Creek, Holiday Lakes, Manvel, Jones Creek, Quintana, Surfside Beach, Hillcrest Village, the following Municipal Utility Districts (MUD): Treasure Island, Brazoria County #4, Brazoria County #5, Brazoria County #1, Brazoria County #2, Brazoria County #3, Brazoria County #6, Brazoria County #17, Brazoria County #18, Brazoria County #19, Brazoria County #16, Brazoria County #21, Brazoria County #22, Brazoria County #26, Brazoria County #23, Brazoria County #25, Brazoria County #28, Brazoria-Fort Bend #1, (Fort Bend CAD), and also the following districts: Brazoria County #29, Varner Creek Utility, Oak Manor Utility, Angleton Drainage, Velasco Drainage, Brazoria County Drainage #8, Brazoria County Drainage #5, Brazoria County Drainage #4, West Brazoria County Drainage, Angleton-Danbury Hospital, Sweeny Hospital, Brazoria County Fresh Water #1, Alvin Community College, Brazosport Junior College, Brazos River Harbor Navigation, Commodore Cove Improvement, Brazoria County Conservation and Reclamation #3, Brazoria County Emergency Services #1, Brazoria County Emergency Services #2 and Brazoria County Emergency Services #3.
Exhibit 2 presents the types of properties appraised by Brazoria CAD in tax year 2003. In-house staff handles all property categories except Category G (minerals), Category J (utilities), and part of Category F2/L2 (industrial - real/personal), which is appraised by HLL&A.
Brazoria CAD Property by Category Summary with Assigned Responsibility
Property Category Account Type Description Responsible for Appraisal Category A Residential In-house staff Category B Multi-Family In-house staff Category C Vacant Lots In-house staff Category D/E Farm/Ranch Land w/Impr. In-house staff Category F1 Commercial Real In-house staff Category L1 Commercial Personal In-house staff Category G Minerals Contracted Appraisal Firm Category J Utilities Contracted Appraisal Firm Category F2 Industrial Real In-house & Contracted Appraisal Firm Category L2 Industrial Personal Contracted Appraisal Firm Source: Brazoria CAD, 2005.
Most appraisal districts contract out some of its appraisal to contract appraisal firms. PTD does not track parcel counts appraised by external appraisers in appraisal districts. Appraisal district contracts with external appraisers routinely do not include a parcel count for the number of appraisals an external appraisal company will perform. In assessing the staff to parcel count ratio in each appraisal district, PTD uses parcel counts reported in the district's 2003 self report and the county's independent school districts self reports to calculate the parcels per appraisal district staff. PTD does include all of the commercial real and personal property parcels in the calculation, since PTD is unable to determine exactly how many parcels are assigned to in-house staff versus a contract appraisal firm. The total parcels appraised in-house are calculated by summing the total number of parcels reported in Categories: A, single family residential; B, multifamily residential; C, vacant lots; D, rural land; E, rural improvements; F1, commercial property; L1, personal property; M1, mobile homes; O, residential inventory; and S, special inventory, as shown in Exhibit 3.
PTD estimated that Brazoria CAD staff are responsible for appraising about 148,224 parcels. The IAAO Standards state that small taxing units run from 1,500 to 1,700 parcels per staff member and large taxing units run from 3,000 to 3,500 parcels per staff member with an average of 2,500.
Districts comparable in size to Brazoria are Jefferson, Nueces, Williamson and Cameron. The number of parcels per staff member for Brazoria CAD was 3,615. Jefferson CAD was 3,093, Nueces CAD was 2,139, Williamson CAD was 2,717 and Cameron was 2,970. Of course, workloads in appraisal districts may vary due to any number of considerations other than parcel count. Geography or the size of an appraisal district may have a significant impact on the time required to work all parcels. The types of properties may also have an impact. More complex commercial and residential properties may require more staff to appraise. The data given here is meant to give the reader at least some comparison to other appraisal districts with similar parcel counts and the standards determined by IAAO.
Exhibit 3 includes reported data concerning CAD and state and group averages.
Reported Data On Parcels, Categories Staffing, Training And Operations
Comparison to State and Group Averages
General Information Brazoria State Avg. Group Avg. Parcel Size Group (by number of locally appraised parcels) 75,000 - 149,999 Estimated # Locally Appraised Parcels 148,224 55,463 105,380 # Taxing Units 65 15 23 Locally Appraised Parcels to Staff 3,615 3,404 2,980 2003 Composition by Percentage
of Value (Self Report):
Brazoria State Avg. Group Avg. Residential Value 44.3% 52.6% 52.2% Non-Residential, Non Mineral 54.0% 43.6% 45.0% Non-Residential, Mineral 1.6% 3.7% 2.8% 2003 Composition by Account Category Type (Operations Survey): Real Property 144,092 45,804 88,673 Mineral Property 20,789 13,536 18,638 Business Personal Property 8,087 4,689 7,462 Individual Personal Property 2,615 1,342 2,501 Total Accounts 175,583 65,372 117,274 2003 Composition by Locally Appraised Parcel Category (Estimated from Self Report): Brazoria State Avg. Group Avg. Parcel Type # Parcels % of Parcels A 73,272 49.4% 44.1% 47.0% B 538 0.4% 1.0% 1.1% C 33,679 22.7% 13.1% 17.6% D 15,436 10.4% 24.7% 16.3% E 3,789 2.6% 4.5% 3.9% F1 4,658 3.1% 3.1% 3.5% L1 8,019 5.4% 5.7% 6.1% M1 5,086 3.4% 2.2% 2.7% O 3,598 2.4% 1.4% 1.7% S 149 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% Total 148,224 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Financial and Staffing
Information (Operations Survey)
Brazoria State Avg. Group Avg. 2003 Budget $2,775,475 $1,079,695 $2,340,418 2003 Surplus $50,000 $71,620 $116,479 2003 Surplus as % of Budget 1.8% 6.6% 5.0% 2004 Budget $2,875,965 $1,104,961 $2,398,762 % Change in Budget 3.5% $0 2.5% 2004 Budget per Total Parcel $19.40 $17.41 $22.76 Staffing Full Time 41 18 39 Part Time 3 2 2 Supervisory 9 3 7 Programmers * 2 2 Supervisory to Staff Ratio 1:5 1:5 1:6 Chief Appraiser Performs Appraisals? No 2004 Total Compensation $77,508 $53,564 $82,056 Appraisers Full - Time 17 8 13 Part - Time 1 0 2 Salary Range: Low $26,000 $24,504 $24,534 High $62,280 $37,521 $51,026 Training Budget $12,000 $8,832 $15,546 # Registered with BTPE (1) 20 9 17 Types of BTPE Certification: RPA (2) RTA (3) RTC (4) All 11 0 0 0 Operations Information
Brazoria State Avg. Group Avg. Reappraisal Last Year of Reappraisal 2003 Next Year of Reappraisal 2004 Type of Appraisal: Complete Method of Appraisal: Combination Protests 15,864 3,131 4,601 Protests per Parcel 9.0% 4.7% 4.0% Consolidated Collection No Collection Budget $0 Geographic Information System (GIS)? Yes Percent GIS Complete 95% 80% 89% Board of Directors Members 6 6 6 Tax Assessor Votes? No Elected Members 1 3 2 Note: An asterisk (*) is shown where data was not reported.
Source: Brazoria CAD and ISDs 2003 Self Reports and Comptroller 2003-2004 Appraisal District Operations Report and Comptroller comparative data for state and group averages from district self reports and the Appraisal District Operations Report.
Notes: (1) BTPE - Board of Tax Professional Examiners. (2) RPA - Registered Professional Appraiser. (3) RTA - Registered Texas Assessor-Collector. (4) RTC - Registered Texas Collector.
Self Evaluation Questionnaire
In preparation for the ASR, Brazoria CAD was requested to complete the IAAO's Self Evaluation Questionnaire. This instrument allows an appraisal district to assess their compliance with acceptable procedures, standards and organization. Each district receives an electronic version of the questionnaire and the complete IAAO manual explaining each question with information on how to answer each question. Each district undergoing an ASR is requested to perform the self assessment, with the goal of assisting the district in determining how well it is performing.
Brazoria County answered all 110 questions. The district gave complete, concise responses to each question rather than providing a simple yes or no answer. The majority of the responses were in the affirmative, with nine negative responses. The district gave careful consideration to each question and their detailed answers are included in Appendix 15.
In Chapter 1, on legal issues and assessment cycles, the district noted it has adequate staffing, keeps current on legal information updates and could improve effectiveness and efficiency through current technology if additional fiscal resources were available.
In Chapter 2, on resource management, the district noted that while Brazoria County is growing rapidly, it remains prepared through formal budgeting, planning and reorganizations, including office space acquisitions, and keeps staff current through performance evaluations and training.
Chapter 3, on computerization, and Chapter 4, mapping, the district noted it has adequate computers in a network environment with ample security and disaster recovery safeguards. In this fast-growing district parcel splits and combinations are currently recorded within 60 days of deed recording, with a goal of having all recordings complete within one month. Geographic coordinates are not displayed on paper maps, however; digital maps are available with the coordinates, on demand. The district also has a user-friendly web site.
In Chapter 5, data collection, the district noted it does not own hand held computers for data collection due to budget constraints. Instead, written field notes are encoded by the data entry department. The district also noted it uses a variety of sources to collect and maintain the most current data possible on its easy to read property record cards.
In Chapter 6, Land Evaluation, the district responded affirmatively to all questions but noted that land sales are limited. Since land value deficiencies were identified in the 2003 PVS, the district has recently placed a new emphasis on mapping land values along with using unit value per acre and square foot as primary measures.
In Chapters 7, 8, and 9, on residential property valuation, commercial property valuation, and sales data, respectively, the district uses extensive sales data, statistical analysis and models such as countywide ratio studies and market-based depreciation tables to set values.
In Chapter 10, on personal property assessment, the district uses a variety of methods to discover and update personal property, including site inspections, and tracking information from Internet sources, magazines, television, radio, phone books and building permits.
In Chapter 11, on assessment administration, the district noted that meeting its goal of timely updating ownership changes or legal information can be challenging due to rapid growth and staffing and technological constraints. The district answered all questions affirmatively in Chapter 12, defense of values, and noted that it makes every attempt to seek outside resources for value validation when litigation is involved but budget and staffing constraints often limit this process.
In public relations, Chapter 13, the district noted that as a community service it has trained staff accessible for public speaking about the property tax system and makes update materials from the Comptroller's office publicly available through many different cooperative resources.
Findings of the Property Value
Study and Summary Worksheets
The Property Value Study (PVS) determines the total property value in each school district in the Brazoria County Appraisal District (CAD). With a few notable exceptions, all CADs and the Property Tax Division (PTD) are required by law to appraise property at market value. Agricultural land and timberland are appraised according to productivity value. Market value, in short, is the price that a property would transfer from a willing seller to a willing buyer. For it to be a market transaction neither party may be under duress to buy or sell, the sale must be on the market for a reasonable time, and the parties to the sale are not related.
Local tax roll value, or local value, is determined by the CAD and submitted to PTD on its annual self-report. The PTD staff estimates the total taxable value in a school district, referred to as state value, by determining market value or by accepting the local appraised value in each property category (see Exhibit 2) in the district and then adding these category values for an overall school district value. PTD then deducts state-mandated homestead exemptions, disabled veterans' exemptions, value limitations, reinvestment zones, Freeport exemptions, the loss between market value and productivity value appraisal of qualified agricultural lands, the school tax ceiling for homeowners over age 65 or disabled and other state-mandated exemptions.
PTD issues a preliminary and final PVS each year. School districts and CADs may protest the findings of the preliminary PVS through an administrative hearings process with the Comptroller, and school districts may protest the findings of the final PVS in district court. The administrative hearings process requires the protester to file a written protest with supporting documentation within 40 days of the issuance of the preliminary PVS. The PTD may amend the findings of the preliminary PVS based on the submission of the written protest, an informal hearing or a formal hearing. Formal hearings are held by a hearings examiner, appointed by the Comptroller's General Counsel, and reporting directly to the Comptroller. The hearings examiner is not an employee of the PTD.
When conducting the property value study, PTD assigns properties to various categories, such as residential, commercial and rural property. Properties are divided into categories so that like properties are assessed together.
According to the PVS, a ratio of between 0.95 and 1.05 in any property category makes it more likely that the district is appraising property within the margin of error, or that it is appraising property at or near market value.
Eligible School District
Alvin ISD was identified as an eligible district with value outside of the confidence interval limit. Alvin ISD hired an agent and appealed its self report that was used in the preliminary Property Value Study. Despite its appeal efforts, the school was identified as eligible in July 2004. There are five property categories tested in Alvin ISD, category A, Single-Family Residences, has 58.4 percent of the district's value with a weighted mean ratio of 0.9538, (2) category D, Rural Real, has 6.5 percent of the district's value with a weighted mean ratio of 0.8107, (3) category F1, Commercial Real, has 8.5 percent of the district's value with a weighted mean ratio of 0.9199, (4) category J, Utilities, has 5.4 percent of the district's value with a weighted mean ratio of 0.9862 and (5) category L1, Commercial Personal, has 6.5 percent of the district's value with a weighted mean ratio of 1.0172.
Category A has 73 percent of the tested value. The appraisal district is placing a below-market value on the category A single-family residences by a weighted mean ratio of 0.9538. The lower than desired ratio affected 58 percent of the total property value in this district.
Category D represents rural properties and contains two subcategories: D1 and D2. Subcategory D1, Productivity Value of Qualifying Acres, is primarily farm and ranch land that qualifies for the special productivity appraisal. Subcategory D2, Non-Qualifying Acres and Farm and Ranch Improvements, is primarily rural homes and land that does not qualify for farming or ranching or timberlands. The differences in value between qualified and non-qualified rural land are often wide since D1 land is appraised using a special statutory method to determine the lands productivity value and D2 is based on what the land would sell for in an open market transaction. Alvin ISD subcategory D1 has 10.5 percent of category D's value and only 1 percent of the tested value. D1 received a weighted mean ratio of 1.045. Subcategory D2, however, has 89.5 percent of category D's value and 7 percent of the school district's total tested value. D2 received a weighted mean ratio of 0.7900. Overall, the rural land and improvement values (category D) are appraised below market value, contributing to the district's values not being within the acceptable study range.
Category F1, Commercial Real, is assessed below market value with a weighted mean ratio 0.9199.
Other School Districts
Angleton ISD is within the confidence interval limit. Category A, Single Family Residences, with 68 percent of the total tested value in the school district, received a 0.9836 ratio and has 27 percent of the school district's total value. Category D2, Non-Qualifying Acres and Farm and Ranch Improvements has 2 percent of the district's value and received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9414, indicating below-market values. Category F1, Commercial Real, received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9016.
Danbury ISD is within the confidence interval limit. Category A is assessed at market value with a ratio of 1.0037. Category D (complete) tested below market value with a ratio of 0.9255. Subcategory D1, Productivity Value of Qualifying Acres, is 3 percent of the school district's value and received a 1.0325 weighted mean ratio. Subcategory D2, Non-Qualifying Acres and Farm and Ranch Improvements has 12 percent of the district's value with a 0.9010 weighted mean ratio, indicating below-market values. Category J, Utilities, has a weighted mean ratio of 0.9729.
Brazosport ISD is within the confidence interval limit. Category A tested below market value with a ratio of 0.9760, and represents 22 percent of the school district's value. Category D received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9981. Subcategory D1 received a 0.9625 weighted mean ratio while subcategory D2 was not tested in this school district. Category F1, Commercial Real, has 4 percent of the school district's value and received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9303. Category J, Utilities, has 2 percent of the school district's value and received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9428. Category L1, Commercial Personal tested at market value with a weighted mean ratio of 1.0048.
Sweeny ISD is within the confidence interval limit. Category A tested below market value with a ratio of 0.9713, and represents 14 percent of the district's value. Category D received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9522. Subcategory D1 test at 0.9656, with less than 1 percent of the school district's value. Subcategory D2 tested below market value with a weighted mean ratio of 0.9507, with 2 percent of the school district's value. Category G, Minerals tested at market value with a weighted mean ratio of 1.0114. Category J, Utilities tested below market value with a weighted mean at 0.9035, with 2 percent of the district's value.
Columbia-Brazoria ISD is within the confidence interval limit. Category A tested near market value with a ratio of 0.9895, and represents 61 percent of the school district's value. Category D tested below market value with a weighted mean ratio of 0.8850. Subcategory D1 has a 0.9805 weighted mean ratio with less than 1 percent of the district's value. Subcategory D2 tested below market value with a 0.8650 weighted mean ratio and has 6 percent of the district's value. Category F1, Commercial Real also is assessed below market value with a weighted mean ratio of 0.9161. Category J, Utilities has 8 percent of the school district's value and received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9876.
Pearland ISD is within the confidence interval limit and all individually tested categories fell within the margin of error. Category A received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9831. Category D received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9999. Subcategory D1 has a weighted mean ratio of 0.9790, while subcategory D2 was not tested. Category F1, Commercial Real tested with a weighted mean ratio of 0.9618.
Damon ISD is within the confidence interval limit. Category A has 35 percent of the school districts value, and 50 percent of the tested value. The appraisal district is placing a below-market value on the category A single-family residences by a weighted mean ratio of 0.9456. Category D received a weighted mean ratio of 0.9857. Subcategory D1 weighted mean ratio is 1.0302 and represents 11 percent of the school districts value. Subcategory D2 tested with a weighted mean ratio of 0.9447 and is 11 percent of the school district's value. Category J, Utilities, has 30 percent of the tested value and received a weighted mean ratio of 1.0090.
Brazoria CAD Summary
In summary, the Brazoria CAD needs to focus its energies on its valuation of category D2, Non-Qualifying Acres and Farm and Ranch Improvements. The appraisal district is placing a value on the category D2, primarily rural homes, below their adjusted selling price (market value) in all of the tested school districts in the county. The county assessed rural homes from 79 percent to 95 percent of market value. In five of the eight school districts category D2 tested outside the margin of error, with one district within the margin of error and two districts not tested in this category. In the eight school districts in Brazoria County, the category A, Single Family Residences tested from market value to just below 95 percent of market value. This reinforces the study findings that residences in the county are under assessed.
For a statistical explanation of why the district was selected as eligible, see Appendix 18.