Montgomery Central Appraisal District Board forces Belinoski to resign as Chief Appraiser

The Montgomery Central Appraisal District on Gladstell Street in Conroe has experienced some major turmoil.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, October 25 – Tony Belinoski, Chief Appraiser for the Montgomery Central Appraisal District (MCAD), resigned from his job on September 26, 2022, after several elected officials and a majority of the Board of Directors of the MCAD complained about his job performance. Many citizens considered Belinoski one of the most powerful individuals in government in Montgomery County, because taxing authorities, such as the Montgomery County government, Conroe Independent School District, the Woodlands Township, and more than one hundred others, used Belinoski’s aggressive property tax appraisal increases as a means to hide behind their own huge increases in government spending, while blaming higher taxes on MCAD.

Four individuals, however, all of whom declined to speak with The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, were instrumental in ridding the community of Belinoski, a serious problem in his government position. Those four individuals are State Senator Brandon Creighton, Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack, Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae, and MCAD Board of Directors member Arthur Bredehoft.

This newspaper spoke with three current MCAD employees, two members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, and three other elected officials, all of whom requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, in order to gather and confirm the information for this news article.

Belinoski and the MCAD Board of Directors set the policies behind the enormous property tax appraisal increases Montgomery County property owners have suffered during the past several years. Even during time periods of economic recessions, such as during the past two years, Belinoski and the MCAD Board pushed property tax appraisals aggressively higher.

At the same time, MCAD’s employees have suffered from monstrously low morale, because Belinoski and his appraisers had great difficulty justifying the property tax appraisal increases, had missed thousands of homestead exemptions, and failed to respond to taxpayer complaints.

In May, 2022, Creighton, Noack, and McRae met with Belinoski about complaints they had received from taxpayers about Belinoski’s and MCAD’s job performance. In particular, McRae, the Tax Assessor-Collector, had received numerous complaints from taxpayers that MCAD was unable to provide justification for the high appraisal increases the agency had assessed on local homeowners. One employee of MCAD acknowledged, “It became apparent that we were just making stuff up. There’s a lot of pressure on us from the County government and the school districts to raise appraisals as rapidly as possible in order to help them raise taxes, while the governing boards can claim they’re ‘lowering’ tax rates.”

“It became apparent that we were just making stuff up. There’s a lot of pressure on us from the County government and the school districts to raise appraisals as rapidly as possible in order to help them raise taxes, while the governing boards can claim they’re ‘lowering’ tax rates.” – – – MCAD employee, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.

Belinoski’s meeting with Creighton, Noack, and McRae did not go well. Meanwhile, Bredehoft, a member of the policy-making MCAD Board of Directors also wanted to replace Belinoski with another Chief Appraiser who would create a positive work environment inside of MCAD and who wouldn’t create the animosity between the organization and taxpayers, which existed naturally but became worse due to the terrible treatment of taxpayers in personal dealings with MCAD employees.

MCAD had become more than six months behind in recognizing homestead exemptions for Montgomery County properties. The agency had begun to amass a terrible record in taxpayer-initiated lawsuits. MCAD fell almost a year behind in property sales and their impacts on appraised values.

Meanwhile, the work environment inside of MCAD grew steadily worse, as employees became frustrated with the lack of leadership.

MCAD’s Board approved a 27% increase in the agency’s budget in August, 2022, but the Montgomery County Commissioners Court refused to approve the increase. In response, Belinoski reached out to several members of taxing authorities in Montgomery County to seek their advice on the maximum budget they felt MCAD could obtain for the coming Fiscal Year 2023 (which began October 1, 2023). Belinoski’s actions appeared to be “the last straw.” The Commissioners Court approved an MCAD budget increase just under 10%.

At that point, however, both Noack and McRae worked behind-the-scenes with Bredehoft to attempt to have Belinoski removed from his job and to replace him with someone more friendly to local taxpayers.

On September 26, despite objections from pro-tax MCAD Board Chairman Bruce Tough, Belinoski submitted his resignation, so that the Board would not have to vote instead to terminate him.

Yesterday, on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, McRae introduced Janet Jennings Doyle, the Interim Chief Appraiser, whom taxpayers will hopefully find more amenable to reasonable, rather than aggressive, property tax appraisal policies.

“It’s a terrible situation over there at MCAD,” one elected official commented. “We need Janet to try to stabilize the District while the Board determines if she or someone else should be the permanent new Chief Appraiser.”

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