Only an Appraisal District Bureaucrat Could Say a 10% Tax Increase is “Relatively Flat”

The Dallas Morning News has a feature today on appraisal growth in the Metroplex. Here’s a shocker: “Denton County recorded a 14.5 percent jump in preliminary appraisals, though appraisers say the final numbers should drop below 10 percent and into what they’re labeling relatively flat growth.”

It’s ludicrous to suggest that a 10 percent in property taxes is relatively flat, but unfortunately the DMN headline on the continuation of the story is “Appraisal growth stays relatively flat.” The word “stays” here may leave the wrong impression since the story notes that the decline in increases for 2008 follows double-digit increases for many years. The “problem” of course is that local governments simply assumed these windfalls would continue and planned huge spending increases in their budgets, so now they must prioritize.

For example, Dallas County in 2007 had a 10.2 increase in certified taxable property value compared with 2006 – the increase is 13.1 percent on this year before protests so the county officials quoted are expecting only a 5 percent net increase, though it appears they are underestimating.

In 2006, only 1 out of 14 Dallas County property taxpayers protested and they got an average 8 percent reduction. All told, protests in 2006 removed $5.6 billion in value from the appraisal rolls. The total Dallas County appraisal role in 2008 is $181.7 billion. Thus, it would seem that the increase in property tax revenues is not going to be shaved from 13.1 percent to 5 percent as a result of protests. This info on the impact of protests is from:

Still, even if these projection turns out to be true, a 5 percent increase in property tax revenue is on par with population plus inflation. That’s what it should be, but too many local governments have gotten used to de facto double-digit property tax increases year.

For this Saturday’s DMN story, see:

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/industries/commrealestate/stories/052408dnmetpropertyvalues.2026848d.html

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