Appraisal Task Force Meets in Houston

A 15 member, bi-partisan task force is tackling the issue of rising property appraisals here in Houston today, looking for solutions to what is quickly becoming a real issue across the state. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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The Task Force on Appraisal Reform was put together by Governor Rick Perry and is meeting in Houston this afternoon, Dallas tomorrow and then Austin on Tuesday. The panel, including Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, is expected to make recommendations to Perry as soon as next year. Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Paul Bettencourt says appraisals have gone up 124-percent over the past 9 years for the average Houston homeowner.

"Even with the large buy-down that's coming from the legislature on school property tax rates, basically what's happened in Harris County and the counties in the state of Texas is that your overall tax bill is still up, so that means people are really paying more in property taxes than they were last year."

The Governor wants the commission to develop its own, independent recommendations, but Bettencourt says at least three things need to be addressed.

"Appraisal cap reduction, revenue caps for all taxing jurisdictions, including the state of Texas and then a complete overhaul in what we call truth in taxation which is how the public is notified of these tax increases, because right now they're just not getting the correct information."

Many economically challenged homeowners in growing areas of the city aren't able to afford their property taxes anymore because of exploding appraisals.

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