May 20: Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

The current legislative session in Texas clearly reveals Texas Republicans’ goals in governing: Crawl into children’s drawers. Crawl into women’s vaginas. Ensure that everyone can carry an unlicensed firearm to shoot innocent citizens and members of law enforcement. Ensure that only Republicans can vote. Not even Nostradamus could have predicted the depths of depravity to which members of the once Grand Old Party have now sunk. We can only hope that all of the people moving to Texas will register to vote and help kick these degenerates out of office.

In hopes that good may someday prevail,

Kent C. Anschutz

Austin & Marfa

Dear Editor,

Right now parents are being pressured to give an experimental injection to their children. It is not legal to put any conditions on any person, let alone a child, to have this “vaccine.”

That means when the government or private entity says your child must wear a mask or cannot attend school without the injection, they are violating the Nuremberg Code.

No one may be forced to participate in an experiment. And, this is an experiment.

Only meager trials have even recently taken place on children. This injection has resulted in serious side effects, including two deaths. It may make your child sterile for life.

Be a lion. Research, research and then do more research. Ask questions. Listen to the doctors who testified at the Texas Senate concerning Bob Hall’s bill for health freedom in Texas.

News is censored, so you may not know this, but Germany’s court has ruled that masks, distancing and testing, among other measures enforced against children, are not only illegal, they are harmful. Expert testimony was given in the case. We do not understand the great harm that has been done to children by adults living in fear and not questioning authorities whose “guidance” changes day to day.

Become that lion. Question authority. Then make your decision.

Jill Berkana

Ft. Davis

Dear Editor,

An open letter to the taxpayers of Marfa and Presidio County

My name is Richard Petree, and I am a consultant to the Presidio County Appraisal District.  As such, I set many of the appraisal factors that drive the proposed values for the entire county, but particularly Marfa. Those values are derived from the market prices being paid for homes, land and commercial property in Marfa.

The purpose of increasing values is not to punish property owners or to raise additional funds. The purpose is to accurately measure the values represented in the market and to pass the Property Value Study that the state comptroller does on PCAD work. We failed this past year, as the sales indicated an 86% appraisal of property compared to sales price. Recent sales indicate a greater difference in those numbers, and that is the reason for the significant increases being proposed. The board and the chief appraiser tried to hold the value for the most part in 2019, and that act of kindness unfortunately resulted in adverse consequences, because when the values are not correct the state funding to local schools is impacted negatively. In the case of Marfa ISD, it means that they must send additional dollars back to the state because they have a high wealth per weighted average daily attendance. It is a complicated issue.

For those of you who are more familiar with other states, there are some key bits of information that may help you understand our problem. First, Texas is a market value state. Taxes are based on the market value of all types of properties unless there is a special constitutional provision allowing a departure from that standard. Agricultural values, for instance, are assessed for taxes instead of market value under VIII (1) D 1 of the Constitution, and those values are based on income. Secondly, Texas is not a full-disclosure state, meaning that when a home or land is purchased, the owner does not have to share the purchase with anyone. This causes extreme difficulty in accurately appraising properties of any type. Realtors share purchase prices with fee appraisers which allow them to do their “fee appraisals,” typically a more accurate method than “mass appraisal” that is done by the district. We often get the sales data from these information sources, but it is often after we have set the values for the year, and then the state often gets sales data because they send a very official letter to buyers and many buyers will respond with the actual sales prices. That being said, the job of mass appraisal is very difficult in any market, but in the Marfa market it is near impossible. Lastly, Texas does not have an income tax so that makes property taxes very high and all tax units rely very heavily on the property tax to generate funding for local services that impact everyone such as emergency services and city maintenance as well as public schools.

Suffice it to say, we must set reasonable values. When those values are turned over to the tax units in August, they then set the tax rates. If the values rise, the rates typically go down which means that overall, taxes remain the same under state law (no new revenue). To increase the rate requires public hearings on the tax rate and budget. A postcard will be mailed to all owners in August telling them the information about that process.

Finally, all the appraisal district wants to do is accurately appraise the properties. This means that each property “pays its fair share.” Most people don’t mind if they are feeling that they are treated fairly, so it is important to ask this question before reacting to the notice of value. “Could I sell my home, business or land for what the estimate of value is?” If the answer is yes, then you have probably been treated fairly. If the answer is no, then get evidence together as to why. Bring a closing statement to the district if you have bought your home recently. If you bought your house a few years ago and have made repairs and remodeling, bring your original cost plus the remodeling costs. If you still have significant repair issues to address on your property, bring pictures and estimates of repairs from contractors. We want to work with you to get the value accurate.

Finally, please do not blame the local chief appraiser and the staff there. When the changes are made, it is on my authority and under my responsibility. They are good people trying to do a very difficult job.

Richard Petree


Dear Editor,

On behalf of the staff and patrons of Alpine Public Library, we would like to thank volunteers Kathy Bork, Linda Bryant and Kathy Donnell. The library has a number of terrific volunteers, but these three stand out for their efforts to keep the library going during the difficult times of the past year.

As soon as the statewide stay-at-home order was lifted last spring, they went to work in the closed library building to inventory and renew the stock in Re-Reads Bookstore, a significant source of operating funds for the library. In addition, Kathy Donnell created and implemented a plan to sell grab bags of books at curbside while Kathy Bork and Linda Bryant processed books to be sold online through the library’s Amazon Storefront. As a nonprofit, the library relies on Re-Reads to help pay expenses, and thanks to the resourcefulness and labor of these three volunteers, the bookstore continues to contribute.

But Re-Reads hasn’t been their only focus. In the past year, they have also organized virtual fundraisers and worked regular shifts at the circulation desk. Even in a pandemic, they have found ways to give their time and energy to keep the library functioning as the wonderful community resource it is, and we are grateful.

Don Wetterauer

Executive Director of the Alpine Public Library

Lee Smith

President of the Friends of the Alpine Public Library