McMullen County Appraisal District
Appraisal Standards Review Follow-Up Report
March 24, 2008
The Honorable Karen Wheeler, Board Chairwoman
Mr. Jesse Bryan, Chief Appraiser
McMullen County Appraisal District
P.O. Box 38
Tilden, Texas 78072-0038
Dear Chairwoman Wheeler and Chief Appraiser Bryan:
This letter constitutes the Comptroller’s follow-up review of the Appraisal Standards Review (ASR) of McMullen County Appraisal District (McMullen CAD) originally released in August 2005. We commend the cooperation of McMullen 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 18 recommendations to help McMullen CAD achieve accurate local value in the annual Property Value Study and improve operations. The Comptroller acknowledges the work McMullen CAD has performed over the last year. The CAD has completed recommendations 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. 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, McMullen CAD has not fully implemented recommendations 4, 5 and 8. Enclosed is more detail on what the CAD still needs to do.
This letter is available on our Window on State Government Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/cadreports/asr/mcmullen01/.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.
cc: Superintendent and Board of Trustees, McMullen County Independent School District
McMullen CAD Board of Directors
McMullen County Appraisal District Appraisal Standards Review Follow-Up Report
What Remains to Be Done
The Comptroller’s office will continue to monitor McMullen CAD’s progress toward meeting the state’s legal requirements. The following outlines specific steps the CAD still needs to take.
Develop, publish and adopt a budget in accordance with Section 6.06 of the Property Tax Code.
The budget is not prepared in accordance with Section 6.06 of the Property Tax Code. In a letter to PTD dated June 27, 2005, the chief appraiser stated that a detailed budget would be prepared and published in at least one local newspaper in neighboring Live Oak or Atascosa counties.
During the June 2006 onsite visit, the chief appraiser reported that the county treasurer prepares the budget and submits it to the board of directors for approval. Further, the chief appraiser has not submitted the proposed budget to the taxing entities.
Property Tax Code Section 6.06 states that the chief appraiser shall prepare and deliver a proposed budget to the board of directors and each taxing entity before June 15. The Property Tax Code also states that the board shall approve the budget before Sept. 15. The chief appraiser submitted the notice for the 2006 budget hearing to the local newspaper on Sept. 16, 2005, which is after the deadline.
A review of the 2006 adopted budget shows that the budget does not contain a detailed listing of salaries, broken down by employee to include benefits, proposed capital expenditures, or the required budget allocations to each taxing unit.
In September 2007, the chief appraiser indicated a detail of district salaries is available upon request. The chief appraiser also stated the county treasurer assists him in preparing the annual budget and that McMullen County employees typically perform duties in other offices, i.e., the county clerk’s, county tax assessor/collector’s and county judge’s offices.
To implement this recommendation, the CAD must comply with the Tax Code deadlines, as well as use the required budget formats. The CAD must submit copies of the 2008 approved budget or a copy of the amended budget to the Comptroller by May 31, 2008, with the correct formats as specified in Property Tax Code Section 6.06(a).
Develop a job description and set of criteria, based on statutory responsibilities found in Section 6.05 of the Property Tax Code, for evaluating the chief appraiser's job performance and establish a competitive salary commensurate with the job.
One of the three criteria in the recommendation has been implemented. While the chief appraiser provided a job description for his position at the onsite meeting on June 30, 2006, no effort has been made to establish a competitive salary commensurate with the job or criteria for evaluating the chief appraiser.
The chief appraiser’s compensation remains substandard compared to similar chief appraisers in the state, even though his monthly salary has risen from $400 to $1,200 per month, not including his reappraisal fee that is paid every three years under a separately negotiated contract.
In September 2007, the chief appraiser indicated that the board realizes his position entails more administrative duties and involvement in daily operations. The chief appraiser spends two to three days a week in the office. Much of the time is spent completing surveys, ratio studies and electronic submissions.
In order to complete this recommendation, the CAD must develop a job description for the chief appraiser based on the criteria set out in Property Tax Code Section 6.05 and use it to evaluate the chief appraiser’s job performance by March 31, 2008.
Develop a comprehensive written policy and procedures manual for district administrative operations.
McMullen CAD does not have well documented policies and procedures to guide the CAD’s day-to-day operations. The chief appraiser submitted a one-page policies and procedures document, but the document does not address areas discussed in the original ASR finding, such as policies for accounting and purchasing. In response to this finding, the chief appraiser indicated county employees perform various duties within different county offices and that he has authorized the county treasurer to maintain accounting records for the appraisal district.
To complete this recommendation, the CAD must develop and document specific CAD policies and procedures addressing areas such as accounting, purchasing and the like. The chief appraiser should include this item on the board’s agenda to show board minutes adopting the policies. The chief appraiser should submit a copy of the policies document and board minutes to PTD by May 31, 2008.