State Says Property Taxes Too Cheap in Marion County


Getting an Earful
Jefferson ISD Business Manager Mike Wood listens intently as Marion Central Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Ann Lummus explains the impact of a recent state audit of local property values.

Jimplecute News Editor

If you get a pink slip in the mail, Marion Central Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Ann Lummus wants you to mail it to her.

Lummus detailed hurdles she faces determining property values for the Jefferson ISD board Tuesday. Partly because of a lack of “tools” like multi-listing sales reports, MCAD was found in a state audit to have not valued Marion County property high enough.

“We are out of compliance,” Lummus said of the audit by the Texas Comptroller’s office finding. State law permits districts to miss their target values by 5 percent. MCAD was found to have valued property at about 90 percent on average of what the state believed it should be.

A 5 percent increase in property values will bring Marion County into compliance. Superintendent Rob Barnwell explained failure to adjust values in line with state expectations will cost JISD state funds. “The state sends us money based on local values,” Barnwell said.

“If the state assumes we have a higher value, the state sends us less money.” Barnwell advised against unwarranted value increases, however. “You don’t want local values so high people can’t pay their taxes,” Barnwell said. Without evaluation tools available in larger counties, Lummus said she must rely on letters sent to buyers and sellers asking what the price for a piece of property might have been.

“We sent 174 letters,” Lummus said of the mail containing the pink slip request for the sale price. “We got 30 back.” The chief appraiser was also not pleased with the way the audit of her office was conducted.“ Typically, the audit includes a sales (research) and appraisals,” Lummus said.

“This year the audit was sales only.” It left a bitter taste in her mouth.“It is disheartening to know someone is judging your work and they haven’t driven a single mile in Marion County,” Lummus said.

Lummus did offer the school board hope at least part of the solution had been found. “Our computer system was calculating depreciation too quickly and too deeply,” Lummus said. “We should see some of this remedy itself.”

Although a grace period ensures JISD will not be penalized this year, Lummus was not taking the situation lightly. “We are out of compliance,” Lummus said. “We had better be in compliance in 2019.

In other action, trustees approved the 2019-2020 school calendar, amended the budget to provide for enhanced math instruction skills, insurance for the guardian program and amended the sales agreement previously approved for surplus property in Smithland.

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2 thoughts on “State Says Property Taxes Too Cheap in Marion County

  1. Why does the JISD have any sort of funding shortfall? There is 5 million dollars in their account just sitting there. Mike Wood knows this, Mike Walker knows it, Tim Phy knows it and I would feel sure the School Board knows it as well. If the JISD School District can amass $5 million in surplus funds, not give teachers a raise in the last 15 years but give the Superintendent a yearly pay increase then why are taxes too low?

    If the citizens of Marion County knew the JISD School District was sitting on 5 million dollars and if the State knew this as well, it would be a very different conversation!

  2. I was standing on the Capitol lawn in Austin last month and saw Governor Greg Abbott’s face when he said property taxes were too high in Texas. During his inaugural speech, he specifically said that appraisal values were inflated. Somebody ain’t tellin’ the truth here.

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