Protests to appraisal evaluations ‘slightly up’

Bruce Harper photo

The Karnes County Appraisal District offices were busy last week as land owners protesting evaluations came to the local offices to be heard.

By Bruce Harper Karnes Countywide staff

KARNES CITY – Inquiries as to the number of protests and the handling of those protests has been a topic of conversation over the past couple of weeks.

“It seems like they’ve scheduled everybody at the same time,” said one county landowner seeking to protest the evaluation received from the district office. The parking lot was packed and buzzing during the middle of last week.

When Chief Appraiser Brian J. Stahl was asked about the situation, he explained, “Part of it has to do with the mineral and oil evaluations. We get the final producer information at the very last moment and we have to adjust accordingly. The  appraisers and experts on those oil royalties come from Houston and are only here for a short time frame.”

Stahl explained that of the number of protests recorded, maybe a 50% number of those never show up for the scheduled meetings and another good sized percentage are settled before the protest hearing.

Of those that do show for a hearing, “We handle them as fast as we can. I want everyone to get their say. If we can’t resolve the protest, the public does have the right to go before an appraisal review board,” said Stahl.

“We then meet with the  land owner and review the findings of the board.”

Evaluations countywide are up dramatically from 2015 when the total evaluation of property and mineral rights totaled $5.9B. That is a ‘B’ as in billion. Calculations for 2018 put that value now at $7B.

The 2015 evaluation was right in the middle of an oil downturn and now the price and value of such property has again edged back up  each year since then.

The evaluations on homes and ranches are tough for the appraisal district .

“We don’t have a large volume of sales in the county for comparison. We have to compile a list,  considering sales over a number of years,” Stahl said.

He mentioned that a good selection size of “comp” sales would be a grouping of 700-800 sales. 

“We only get around 70-80 per year in Karnes County, if that,” Stahl said.

There has definitely been a steady increase in the evaluations over the past few years. Sathl urges everyone to be patient.

“We do our best to let people be heard,” he said.