Titus County Appraisal District
Appraisal Standards Review Follow-Up Report
April 7, 2008
Mr. Gerald Hampton, Board Chairman
Mr. Ronny Babcock, Chief Appraiser
Titus County Appraisal District
P.O. Box 528
Mount Pleasant, Texas 75456-0528
Dear Chairman Hampton and Chief Appraiser Babcock:
This letter constitutes the Comptroller's follow-up review of the Appraisal Standards Review (ASR) of Titus County Appraisal District (Titus CAD) originally released in November 2006. We commend the cooperation of Titus 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 14 recommendations to help Titus CAD achieve accurate local value in the annual Property Value Study and improve operations. The Comptroller acknowledges the work Titus CAD has performed over the last year. The CAD has completed recommendations 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 14. These completed recommendations have assisted the CAD in improving its staffing, management and appraisal practices.
We also reviewed the implementation of the remaining recommendations. Recommendations 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 are in progress. 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/titus01/.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.
cc: Superintendent and Board of Trustees, Daingerfield-Lone Star Independent School District;
Mount Pleasant Independent School District; Winfield Independent School District;
Chapel Hill Independent School District; and Harts Bluff Independent School District
Titus CAD Board of Directors
Titus County Appraisal District Appraisal Standards Review Follow-Up Report
What Remains to Be Done
The Comptroller's office will continue to monitor Titus CAD's progress toward meeting the state's legal requirements. The following outlines steps Titus CAD still needs to take.
Adhere to Tax Code Sections 6.06(a) and (b) by complying with the budget calendar and expanding the budget detail to include staff benefit costs by position and a detailed listing of capital expenditures.
The board adopted the 2008 budget on Sept. 10, 2007, meeting the statutory time requirement. The "Salary and Benefit Schedule" was modified to list each position and the salary and benefit costs for the corresponding position. The capital expenditures section of the budget did not change. It lists totals for categories of items, but does not list the specific expenditures as required by Property Tax Code Section 6.06.
While Titus CAD has made positive changes to its budget, it still does not meet all of the requirements listed in the recommendation. To complete the recommendation, the CAD should include an explanation for each capital expenditure and add it to the budget. In preparing the 2008 budget, the CAD should ensure that it contains the required detail. The CAD should provide PTD with a copy of the 2008 budget and board minutes showing its approval no later than Oct. 31, 2008.
Analyze variances for funds that have not been obligated to improve budget accuracy and comply with Tax Code requirements for excess funds.
The chief appraiser said the CAD now analyzes the budget and adjusts categories to be more accurate.
The CAD has a reserve of excess funds of $651,000. The chief appraiser went before the governing bodies of all 14 taxing entities and asked for permission to use excess funds to purchase a new office building. All of the taxing units approved the request. However, the request only asked for the purchase price of $450,000 to come out of the reserve fund. The remaining $201,000 in the reserve fund should be credited back to the taxing units as required by Property Tax Code Section 6.06 (j), which requires any excess funds to be credited against each taxing unit's allocated payment for the following year.
To complete the recommendation, the CAD should credit the excess funds back to the taxing units and send verification to PTD no later than July 31, 2008.
Develop a well-defined job description and a written evaluation tool for the chief appraiser and use the tool to annually evaluate the chief appraiser.
A well-defined job description was created for the chief appraiser that meets the standards outlined in the ASR.
An evaluation tool was also created; however, the tool does not correspond to the job description and appears to be a self-assessment tool. The tool is broken down into six areas: communication, leadership, relationships, project management, productivity and personal development. Within each area, there are between three and seven topics to be rated. Each topic is assigned a score between one and five, with one being needs work and five being exceptional.
Some of the topics in the evaluation tool are good measures of the chief appraiser's performance, such as whether deadlines are met and tasks are completed. Other topics in the tool are subjective and hard to measure. For example, under the relationship area, the board is asked to measure the chief appraiser's ability to foster loyalty in employees.
To complete this recommendation, the evaluation tool should be modified to correspond with the chief appraiser's job description, and should include criteria that can easily be measured by the board, as well as a signature line. The new tool should be created, used and sent to PTD no later than July 31, 2008.
Develop complete appraisal manuals for use in commercial and rural residential property appraisals.
The chief appraiser said they are in the process of creating appraisal manuals for commercial and rural residential properties. They are currently updating the schedules, but this is a time consuming process because they cannot print the schedules from their new appraisal software.
To complete this recommendation, the CAD should complete the manuals and send them to PTD no later than April 30, 2008.
Develop comprehensive operating procedures for CAD business functions.
Examples of good operating procedures were sent to the CAD as requested by the chiefappraiser. The CAD is in the process of creating its operating procedures.
To complete this recommendation, the CAD should complete the procedures and send them to PTD no later than April 30, 2008.
Develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan for all Titus CAD operations, including backup and fireproof and waterproof storage options.
The chief appraiser said that safeguards were previously in place, but not in writing. He also said the new building the CAD is moving to has a fireproof vault where the server and microfilmed backups will be stored.
The CAD developed a disaster recovery plan and it was approved by the board at the December 2007 meeting. The plan is a good start, but it does not contain all of the requirements listed in Exhibit 15 of the ASR. The plan should contain a listing of CAD employees and their corresponding responsibilities in the event of a disaster. The plan should also contain procedures should the phones go out of service.
To complete this recommendation, the CAD should update the disaster recovery plan, have it approved by the board and send it to PTD no later than April 30, 2008.