Nolan Central Appraisal District
Appraisal Standards Review Follow-Up Report
March 26, 2008
Mr. Ben L. High, Board Chairman
Ms. Brenda Klepper, Chief Appraiser
Nolan Central Appraisal District
P.O. Box 1256
Sweetwater, Texas 79556-1256
Dear Chairman High and Chief Appraiser Klepper:
This letter constitutes the Comptroller’s follow-up review of the Appraisal Standards Review (ASR) of Nolan County Appraisal District (Nolan CAD) originally released in December 2006. We commend the cooperation of Nolan 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 affects funding to public schools.
The ASR made 11 recommendations to help Nolan CAD achieve accurate local value in the annual Property Value Study and improve operations. The Comptroller acknowledges the work Nolan CAD has performed over the last year in completing recommendations 1, 4 and 8. 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, Nolan CAD has not implemented recommendations 5, 9 and 10, and recommendations 2, 3, 6, 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 Nolan CAD operations and require quarterly reports until the CAD has implemented all recommendations.
This letter is available on our Window on State Government Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/cadreports/asr/nolan01/.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.
cc: Superintendent and Board of Trustees, Roscoe Independent School District; Sweetwater Independent
School District; Blackwell Independent School District; and Highland Independent School District
Nolan CAD Board of Directors
Nolan Central Appraisal District Appraisal Standards Review Follow-Up Report
What Remains to Be Done
The Comptroller’s office will continue to monitor Nolan CAD’s progress toward meeting the state’s legal requirements. The following outlines specific steps the CAD still needs to take.
Develop a comprehensive board of directors’ policy manual that defines the appraisal district’s goals and guides the appraisal process.
The CAD’s chief appraiser prepared a draft of a document entitled Bylaws, Rules of Order and Procedure Central Appraisal District of Nolan County Board of Directors. The five-page document includes the following sections with a description of the board’s duties and responsibilities:
- General Provisions;
- Organization, Meetings and Compensation;
- Board Functions and Duties;
- Public Access to Board of Directors;
- Access to Physically Handicapped;
- Access by Non-English Speaking Persons; and
- Procedures for the Collection of Delinquent Taxes.
The chief appraiser plans to present this document to the board at its January meeting for its discussion and approval. By no later than Aug. 31, 2008, the CAD needs to provide the Comptroller’s office a copy of the final policy manual as well as minutes of the board meeting evidencing approval.
Develop, perform and document an annual performance evaluation of the chief appraiser.
The chief appraiser during the time of the appraisal standards review resigned in March 2007, three months after issuance of the report. The board named the administrative assistant as an interim chief appraiser until September 2007, when they formally hired the interim chief appraiser on a permanent basis.
The new chief appraiser developed a job description that includes statutory duties, other statutory duties not directly related to appraisal of property and duties assigned by the board of directors. The job description also provides for the skills required; education and training; and supervision.
The chief appraiser also secured an evaluation instrument from a company that preprints human resources forms. She intends for the board to use this form in her evaluation. The form is entitled Employee Performance Review for Supervisory, Managerial and Professional Personnel. It provides procedures and instructions the board can use to complete the form. The board will be able to assign up to five levels of performance, ranging from unsatisfactory to clearly outstanding in sections on managerial and supervisory areas as well as in performance and personal traits. It also affords the board members an area to provide written comments on strengths, weaknesses, past objectives, accomplishments and future objectives.
The chief appraiser indicated the board would use these instruments for her annual evaluation in September 2008. By no later than Sept. 30, 2008, the CAD needs to provide the Comptroller’s office board minutes indicating the board has performed an evaluation of the chief appraiser.
Complete the process of developing and updating the appraisal procedures manual and update and maintain existing documents.
The chief appraiser produced an Appraisal Manual, Central Appraisal District of Nolan County that she prepared in 1998 when she served as administrative assistant. The manual includes photographs and property tables. The CAD took this information from Marshall & Swift and it has not updated it since she wrote manual nearly 10 years ago. The chief appraiser has established an appraisal reference library with all the CAD’s appraisal resources. She plans to update the 1998 manual with current tables and to use a digital camera to include photographs of local properties rather than those used by Marshall & Swift.
The chief appraiser indicated this is a major project and given the fact that she has been on the job for only three months, she needs until June 2008 to complete the revisions. By no later than July 31, 2008, the CAD needs to provide the Comptroller’s office a copy of the updated and revised appraisal procedures manual as well as board minutes indicating the board has formally adopted the manual for use of CAD appraisers.
Develop written policies and procedures for managing the contract process, and comply with the procedures for competitive sealed bids and proposals.
The chief appraiser prepared a chart of board actions taken over the last 10 years and will plot a timeline for bids and contract renewal. She is reviewing all current CAD contracts. The CAD has recently experienced costly problems with its appraisal services firm and an appraisal software firm. The chief appraiser indicated she would consult with the CAD’s attorney to incorporate protections in future contracts for these and other services. The chief appraiser also provided documentation of recent bid proposals for a copier, a new vehicle and a bank depository. The CAD does not publish bid solicitations in local newspapers, but instead mails them to all vendors within the county or within a 100-mile radius in the case of the vehicle. Local Government Code Section 252.041(a) provides that if “competitive sealed bidding requirement applies to the contract, notice of the time and place at which the bids will be publicly opened and read aloud must be published at least once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper published in the municipality.” (Emphasis added) The chief appraiser should consult with the CAD’s attorney regarding the procedures used for soliciting and awarding bids to ensure that the CAD is complying with state law.
The chief appraiser said she would complete the review of this processes by June 2008. By no later than July 31, 2008, the CAD needs to provide the Comptroller’s office a copy of written policies and procedures for managing the contract process that comply with state law for competitive sealed bids and proposals. It must also submit board minutes indicating the board has formally adopted these procedures.
Develop standard operating procedures for managing the information processing systems.
The CAD developed a comprehensive manual for processing tax collections. The manual makes use of “screen prints” from the software program to demonstrate how to perform tasks. The manual covers every task in the process. The chief appraiser indicated staff is developing a similar manual for the appraisal processing software. A change in appraisal software has delayed development of this manual. The software the CAD purchased in 2005 did not work as anticipated and the CAD went back to the previous software.
The chief appraiser believes the CAD can complete the appraisal software manual by June 2008. By no later than July 31, 2008, the CAD needs to provide the Comptroller’s office a copy of its operating procedures for use of its appraisal software system and must also submit board minutes indicating the board has formally adopted these procedures.
File a records retention schedule with the Texas State Library.
Nolan CAD developed a comprehensive records retention system but did not file it with the Texas State Library as required by Local Government Code Section 203.041(a). The chief appraiser plans to attend records retention training at the Texas State Library in March 2008 and plans to file the required schedules after completion of the training.
By no later than April 30, 2008, the CAD needs to provide the Comptroller's office a copy of its submission of a records retention plan with the Texas State Library.
Develop, implement and test a written plan for disaster recovery.
The chief appraiser plans to attend a records disaster planning course given by the Texas State Library in Austin on Feb. 27, 2008, after which she will prepare the disaster recovery plan. In the meantime, the chief appraiser indicated that the CAD’s office facility used to house a bank and the CAD keeps its records in a fireproof safe.
By no later than May 31, 2008, the CAD needs to provide the Comptroller's office a copy of its disaster recovery plan and minutes of the board in which it was considered and approved by the board.
Develop policies and procedures and update existing operating manuals.
The chief appraiser began addressing this recommendation by preparing job descriptions for all staff positions describing their responsibilities and tasks. The chief appraiser also found a document entitled General Operating Procedures, Central Appraisal District of Nolan County that her predecessor prepared. While the chief appraiser believes the document is not adequate, it is a starting point from where the CAD can begin.
The chief appraiser indicated that the CAD could complete this recommendation by June 2008. By no later than July 31, 2008, the CAD needs to provide the Comptroller's office a copy of its operating procedures manual and minutes of the board in which it was considered and approved by the board.