Tarrant Appraisal District backs chief appraiser amidst public scrutiny

Tarrant County, Texas – In the wake of months of intensified public examination from both elected representatives and property owners, Jeff Law, the Chief Appraiser for the Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD), triumphed in securing a vote of confidence on Friday from the district board of directors, a move that signifies a considerable shift in district leadership dynamics.

Tarrant Appraisal District backs chief appraiser amidst public scrutiny. What that means?

Law’s tenure has been marked by enhanced communication channels with the local community and board members, a significant factor in the directors’ unanimous decision to sustain him in his position. This decision not only manifests a strong belief in his leadership but effectively halts any potential upheavals at the highest echelons of the district.

The recent past had seen the district engulfed in turmoil, as Keller, Tarrant County, and other municipalities collectively recalled former board chair Kathryn Wilemon in March. The removal was instigated by mounting concerns about perceived mistrust and opacity in the district’s operations, creating a vacancy that was filled by the new board chair, Tony Pompa.

Law doesn’t have full support from the board

However, Law’s acceptance was not without contention. Following the narrow 3-2 vote, he candidly admitted that there remains a considerable task ahead to wholly earn the board’s trust. Board member Rich DeOtte’s dissenting vote, driven by continual issues where he believed Law stood in opposition to certain taxpayers, underscored the ongoing challenges.

“It’s our goal to communicate with the taxpayers, the tax entities, all the stakeholders, all the things regarding property taxes,” Law said after the decision that followed a closed door meeting, as reported by CBS News Texas. “I also want to try to inform and educate the public more about the appraisal process.”

Pompa, who succeeded Wilemon, expressed his belief that the recent legislative measures to diminish property taxes also contributed to alleviating some of the pressure weighing heavily on Law and the district.

Nonetheless, the spring of this year saw Law and TAD face stinging criticism when a botched website relaunch failed to accommodate an overwhelming surge of traffic from taxpayers, coinciding with the release of new valuations.

Adding to the complexity of Law’s role, last year saw him and another executive temporarily suspended without remuneration for a fortnight over their handling of grievances lodged with the state concerning realtor Chandler Crouch. Crouch has been instrumental in assisting thousands of property owners in lodging protests annually without charge.

In an 11-point missive delivered in April, the board delineated a clear pathway for Law, directing him to undertake robust measures to restore the district’s tarnished reputation, instill a culture that circumvents retaliation, and ensure a communication strategy that is both timely and transparent with the public.

Property values in Tarrant Counties. What went wrong?

At the meeting on Friday, Law revealed the 2023 property values, showing that residential properties in Tarrant County increased by 13% from last year, reaching a market value of $391 billion.

Over 214,000 homeowners, which is nearly a third of all, challenged their valuations this year. Due to website access issues, TAD extended the deadline for filing protests. More than half of these protests were filed using the online tool.

Meanwhile, a recent analysis has shown that North Texas is experiencing an influx of newcomers, a trend that directly reflects to the local real estate market. According to Donna Van Ness, president and CEO of Housing Channel Fort Worth, Dallas-Fort Worth region is experiencing affordable housing crisis. Another report showed that Dallas is among the four cities nationwide with the highest surge in housing prices.

Clay Tran

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