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County appraisal district tax statements mailed

With tax statements in the mail and expected to hit mailboxes of property owners across Cooke County soon, some – if not all – taxpayers are wondering if they’re paying too much.

With national and regional media coverage on a slumping housing market, rising instances of foreclosures and a hike in the price of everything from gasoline to groceries, why would a property owner see his tax bill go up this year?

Better question, according to northwestern Cooke County resident David Brockett: “Why did my property’s appraised value go up 53 percent?”

Brockett, who spoke up at Thursday night’s meeting of the Board of Directors of the Cooke County Appraisal District – the county’s centralized taxing service – said his 60 acres north of Muenster and south of Bulcher down four miles of gravel road isn’t a hotter commodity than it was last year or in years before.

“I’m going to tell the board right now, that’s way out of line,” he said, during a part of the meeting reserved for public comments.

Brockett said his view is slowly being streaked by industrial wind generators from the Wolf Ridge Wind development. He said since the wind turbine construction began no properties have sold in the area and no new homes built, that he noticed.

Doug Smithson, chief appraiser of the Cooke County Appraisal District, said it’s no surprise that properties are not selling at a higher rate and that new home construction is stalled.

According to his figures, Smithson said the number of deed transfers per year has remained about the same on average. In 2007, 2,001 and deeds were transferred, compared to 1,631 in 2006. That may be an increase, he noted, but in 2005 there were 2,061 deeds transferred compared to 1,673 in 2004.

“It’s somewhat stable, but it hasn’t gone down,” Smithson said, of property and home sales and transfers.

Smithson said nearby properties have been sold at higher and higher prices each year. For example, according to CCAD records, Rebecca Harris, owner of the Red River Trails, which hosts the annual Red Bull Last Man Standing all-terrain motocross, recently purchased a large tract of land. Smithson said the price was around $3,200 per acre. Smithson said the CCAD’s appraisal was $2,600.

“It was under-valued,” he said.

Smithson also noted a general increase in the price of rental properties in Cooke County over the last year.

“It’s hard to find a rental property without paying an arm and a leg for it,” he said.

Smithson said Cooke County does not match the national trend when it comes to foreclosures, as fewer were conducted in 2007 than in 2006.

Tax collections, he said, continue to come in at about the same rate. Fully 90.42 percent of school taxes were received by the independent school districts of Cooke County in 2007, compared to 90.10 percent in 2006.

Regardless of the reasons for the appraised value increase, Brockett is left holding the bill.

“Those aren’t Texas skies anymore,” he said. “… my property value’s going down, not up.”

May 12, 2008 (Gainesville Daily Register – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)


13 May 2008