Publisher’s Note: Nick Vonas, who lives in Crighton Ridge in Conroe, has written several articles detailing the problems with appraisal districts across Texas, especially in corrupt Montgomery County (the Montgomery Central Appraisal District). Vonas has continued his writing and actions with a statewide petition he’s begun to bring reform to local appraisal districts, particularly through the election by the voters of the appraisal district boards of directors who set appraisal policies and reappraisal policies for each local appraisal district.
Nick Vonas, Guest Editorialist to The Golden Hammer
We sometimes forget that as a combined group, we can establish significant leverage to push back and make a change. This combination goes way beyond politics, race, religion, lifestyle, income, or what neighborhood you live in. This is about moving the pendulum the other way and overcoming the momentum that has moved away from fair valuation and taxation. I don’t know of anyone that is against paying their fair share, but that same “fair share” term is not in the current vocabulary of the entities of appraisal and taxation bureaucracies.
A petition and reform website has been established. If you’ve been complaining about what seems to be a push to appraise and tax you out of your home, here’s an easy way to voice your support and opinion.
This site has information and links to a petition that will be sent to our legislators. It’s not fancy and it doesn’t ask you for a dime, but it’s a tool to help consolidate the broad sentiments of anyone affected by what is happening to our values and taxes. There are no guarantees to anything we do, but there’s value in putting forth an effort, because if you do nothing you get nothing.
In a recently published article I asked about about each person’s willingness to stand up to protect their property:
“Can you be a Howard Jarvis for Appraisal District reform in Texas?” The Golden Hammer, April 20, 2021. https://thegoldenhammer.net/guest-writer-nick-vonas-can-you-be-a-howard-jarvis-for-appraisal-district-reform-in-texas/
This article was the latest in a series that was started in April of 2020, all pertaining to the antics of our Montgomery County Appraisal District (MCAD). These articles remind us of that, as a political subdivision, how well insulated Montgomery Central Appraisal District (MCAD) is from public input, public control, or State Comptroller oversight.
It’s the tax entities listed on your appraisal notice that nominate and vote the MCAD Board of Directors into place, who in turn nominate the Chief Appraiser. They do not answer to you. The public is not invited to the party but is mandated to pay whatever assessments and related tax are cooked up unless it goes through a protest process that quite often ends up in a still-higher assessment.
Want to file a complaint with the state? Good luck with that. A direct quote from our friends at the Texas Comptroller’s Office in response to a complaint filed regarding MCAD predatory tactics:
“The Comptroller’s Office has no oversight authority over appraisal districts”
And, as has been shown before, many of the appraisal officials and staff themselves have managed to avoid the increased assessments that much of the public has to deal with…..
Unless we all move to push our elected legislators to change laws, many property owners can simply be pushed out of their homes, not because they want to go, but because their appraisals and the taxes that are factored into those appraisals have become unaffordable.
Regardless of homestead and over-65 exemptions, seniors can be forced from their homes. Seniors are not exempt from excessive appraisal assessment increases and resultant higher taxes!
In my opinion this all has the opportunity to get much worse. Texas is seeing an influx of people moving here from other states, and many of them are buying a home or property. As demand increases, so do market values. As market values increase, appraisal assessments can also increase, to the tune of 10% each and every year on homesteaded properties. This is a key factor for forcing homeowners – especially seniors – out of a home they have lived in for years. Sure, it’s nice to know your property has gone up in value, but you are essentially penalized every year for that value unless you sell. What if you don’t want to sell? And if you do sell, then where do you go? Appraisal assessments are escalating all over the state and there’s no overall cap in place for property taxes.
But take heart – there are legislators that are listening. Two that I’m aware of are Will Metcalf and James White. Metcalf has introduced HB 3322 that pertains to publicly elected appraisal officials and White has filed the Texas Reform Act of 2021 (HB 3770) which eliminates sales, property, and franchise taxes, replacing them with an efficient, and transparent state consumption tax of 7% with a broader tax base. Let them know you are supportive of actions that actually help the taxpayer.
So the choice is yours. I’ll simply ask the question – are you willing to take action to protect your property? If your answer is yes, then there’s a way to join with others to make that effort.