Appraisal district hears residents’ outcry, answers questions at town hall meeting

PRESIDIO — Property value dominated much of the heated discussion during Monday’s town hall on property appraisals, which took place at the Presidio Activity Center on Monday, June 21.

Presidio residents were upset after receiving their notices of appraised value on May 7, which were based on inspections that happened in January and February. House values went up 30% this year from last year. Those who were not happy with the Appraisal County District’s assessment of their property had until June 7 to apply for a protest of their appraisal value, but many missed the date, citing a lack of communication from the appraisal district.

New laws dictate that agents cannot visit the property if the owner is not there, forcing them to take an educated guess on a structure’s measurements, or any new additions that could change property value. For cases where property value is unclear, the County Appraisal District has implemented new geographic information mapping system technology, which Presidio County Chief Appraiser Cynthia Ramirez reminded everyone was available on the county’s website to help residents calculate costs. For those who are curious about how they appraise property, Ramirez also said that their residential appraisal manual could be found on the website.

All of this had town hall attendees questioning whether employees were qualified to evaluate their residential and business properties. Trish Runyan, 70, felt that the bureaucratic secrecy had the district taking advantage of average Presidians, who she describes as being treated as “the south side of the tracks.”

“I helped a woman in Presidio who owns a lot of land and is getting dementia, and she doesn’t understand her tax bills at all … I couldn’t explain to her in such a way that she would grasp the idea,” Runyan said during the meeting. “And when I realized how much power the appraisal district has … I want to find a way to educate the community so that it doesn’t come to shouting, angry words and frustration.”

Ramirez explained that the increase in appraisal values this year (which are separate from any tax increases) were influenced by inflation, the price that comparable homes had sold for, and that the district has repeatedly failed to appraise homes high enough to match the state’s valuations. Failing to increase property values to match the state can result in funding losses for the local school district.

“We always try to go the extra mile, especially for the elderly people,” Ramirez said. “We’re the ‘bad guys,’ but we try to do our best.”