Judge Carter Acts on Shocking Tax Appraisals

SAN ANGELO – Turmoil at the Tax Appraisal District office this week has Tom Green County residents up in arms over dramatic increases in land values on property tax appraisals and Tom Green County Judge Lane Carter has not taken action to address the appraisal issue.  

As Joe Hyde reported Friday, a software algorithm appears to have decreased taxable values on parcels of land over one acre while significantly increasing land values on parcels under one acre.  Residents are understandably concerned about the huge hike in appraised value because later this year taxing entities, like school districts, cities and counties, will use those values to create budgets and set a tax rate.  

Here is what Judge Carter posted on social media Friday evening: 

"In the last day and a half I have been on the phone with Representative Drew Darby and Senator Charles Perry. We’ve discussed the current situation and agree that something needs to be done. Right now our area is seeing substantial increases…mainly in the land calculation. I do have to give credit to Ryan Newlin for seeing a potential flaw in the calculation. If you have over 1 acre it is calculated by a certain valuation. However, what he found was that if you have less than an acre (which is the majority of everyone in the county) it is calculated by a different square footage rate. These rates are not proportional. From the conversations, we MAY have a plan to address this that would be beneficial to everyone. I say MAY mainly because it is still in the infant stage of discussion and A LOT of logistics to work out. Mr Darby is hopeful to drive down one day next week from session just to make the meeting with the chief appraiser and I along with Mayor Gunter and Carl Dethloff from SAISD. Hopefully through this we can advance our theory and provide relief. IN THE MEANTIME…..PLEASE CONTINUE TO FILL OUT YOUR PROTEST FORMS and SUBMIT TO THE APPRAISAL DISTRICT!!!"

This is a developing story.  

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I can't wait to see this young man put our old swamp dwellers in their place, and some lower taxes!!!

Algorithms that do this kind of thing are not sophisticated, unlike those that try to do things like predict the path of hurricanes.  Basically it's an IF THIS THEN THIS ELSE THIS, which is easily coded in programming languages going back to dinosaur things like BASIC, early FORTRAN, and COBOL (the last of which is still used extensively on legacy systems and makes skilled COBOL coders valuable).

Algorithms are coded by folks who are dependent on those who decide what the IF THIS... parameters should be.  If there is a problem here it lies with those decisions and the basis for those decisions.

I understand that the IF THIS... parameters must incorporate all possible uses for and size of the land being taxed (hopefully not who happens to own the property).  Any coder skilled in the coding language being used should easily be able to lay out a matrix of the decision process in terms that a non-coder can see and understand. 

I guess I'm just trying to say don't blame the algorithm, but rather the people/process that established its defined parameters.  People should understand the decisions the code is making, and then ask, "Why? And who made the decision?".

As an aside, based on what I have read I would be ticked off too.

This logical explanation, one that former mayor lohn did I fairly good job of covering in his letter, does not allow Facebook jail and stolen elections to come into play. Your boring explanation sadly does not drive clicks.  

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