travis county val­ues take a hit as neigh­bor­ing ar­eas hold tight

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Lay­lan Copelin

Travis County’s prop­erty val­ues de­clined over the past year while other Cen­tral Texas coun­ties re­mained largely flat, ac­cord­ing to cer­ti­fied tax rolls re­leased by area ap­praisal dis­tricts.

The ap­praised mar­ket value for prop­er­ties in Travis County dropped from $124 bil­lion in 2009 to $119.7 bil­lion this year — about a 3.5 per­cent de­crease. That drop is less than ap­prais­ers feared when they ini­tially pro­jected a de­cline of more than 5 per­cent. But it still is the first over­all de­cline since 2003.

Mean­while, Wil­liamson County saw a de­cline of only $200 mil­lion, to $41.6 bil­lion. Bas­trop and Hays added $100 mil­lion and $200 mil­lion, re­spec­tively, for to­tal val­ues of $6.5 bil­lion and $14.2 bil­lion.

The de­cline in Travis County can be at­trib­uted to the re­ces­sion, Chief Ap­praiser Pa­trick Brown said.

“There have been some dra­matic brakes put on the amounts of new value be­ing added,” Brown said.

In 2009, $3.2 bil­lion in new prop­erty was added to the rolls. This year, that dropped to $1.9 bil­lion — too lit­tle to com­pen­sate for fall­ing val­ues of older prop­er­ties.

Brown pre­dicted that resi- den­tial val­ues could con­tinue to drift down­ward for sev­eral months, but he ex­pects an in­crease in about 18 months.

Fewer peo­ple are protest­ing their val­ues, Brown said, as ap­praisals catch up with the re­ces­sion’s im­pact.

In 2009, about 94,000 protests were filed. This year, there are about 70,000.

In Wil­liamson County, Chief Ap­praiser Alvin Lank­ford said protests dropped about 25 per-

Con­tin­ued from A1 cent over last year af­ter val­ues dropped for two-thirds of the res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties the past two years.

But val­ues over­all be­gan to sta­bi­lize this year, Lank­ford said.

“It’s much eas­ier for our tax­ing en­ti­ties when they don’t see large de­creases,” he said.

Cities, school dis­tricts and other tax­ing en­ti­ties al­low var­i­ous de­duc­tions, such as home­owner ex­emp­tions, from the mar­ket value of some prop­er­ties, which re­duces the base on which they can levy taxes. So the net tax­able value of prop­er­ties is lower than the over­all value.

And the coun­ty­wide av­er­ages mask dif­fer­ences be­tween tax­ing en­ti­ties.

Val­ues for the Round Rock In­de­pen­dent School District and the City of Round Rock, for ex­am­ple, dropped be­tween 2 and 3 per­cent. The City of Le­an­der will en­joy a 3.5 per­cent in­crease. Lank­ford said Round Rock has more com­mer­cial prop­er­ties, which de­clined more this past year.

In Bas­trop County, Chief Ap­praiser Mark Boehnke said protests re­main about the same as the year be­fore. “All con­sumers are look­ing for any way they can to save money,” he said.

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