Clearing up confusion over new propositions

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Opponents say the language in the upcoming Texas state ballot is confusing. It is leading some to believe that Propositions 2 and 3 on the November 3rd constitutional amendment ballot will result in a property tax increase for homeowners. But, local officials say that's not true.

"Proposition 2, unfortunately, is poorly worded so there's a lot of e-mails going around the state saying watch your back. The state is about to raise your property taxes," said State Representative Leo Berman.

Often, appraisers value property based on its "highest and best use" rather than on its current use. Meaning, a residential property in or near a commercial district could be valued based on its commercial potential - not as a residence. Proposition 2 seeks to change that.

"A commercial property is generally valued higher than a residential property," explained Berman. "When you use commercial properties to evaluate your home, your home appraisal is going to be higher if that commercial property is used."

The ballot proposal calls for the legislature to provide for taxation of a residence homestead solely on the basis of the property's value as a residence.

"Some appraisals in the past few years have gone up...20 percent in one year, and that's why we're trying to do this: to lower the amount of appraisals on your home," said Berman.

Proposition three calls for uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for tax purposes.

"Personally, I support the move in that direction," said Michael Barnett, the chief appraiser for the Smith County Appraisal District.

Proposition 3 will create a uniform standard in the way homes are appraised, which all of Texas will have to comply with.

"Almost without exception, these are all moving in a very positive way to ensure that there's accountability, transparency and that the property owner is given fair consideration for their issues," said Barnett.

Proposition 5 will allow appraisal districts in smaller Texas counties to combine with one another, which could help save those counties money. But, that proposition will most likely not affect East Texas. The election is Tuesday, November 3rd.

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