Property values up
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

May 11, 2006 -- Homeowners in Hopkins County will be getting a new look at property values this week as Hopkins County Appraisal District mails out letters showing the 2006 appraised values in the county.

After increases of 5 to 6 percent in overall property values in each of the past two years, values are taking another big jump, according to Chief Appraiser Bill Sherman.

"Hang on to your hat," was all Sherman could say.

The new values placed on houses will be up 8 to 10 percent over last year, while land values have appreciated from 10 to 50 percent, depending on location.

Sherman said the increase in taxable value was only a drop in the bucket compared to market values.

"The market value, I suspect, will go up about $100 million," he said. "Taxable value will be probably be about half that because a lot of that is agriculture use value, which does not change that much."

Sherman said more than 27,000 property owner's letters are scheduled to be mailed Friday, but only to notify owners of the new values.

"Please do not pay — this is not a tax bill," he said. 

The chief appraiser emphasized the importance of the letter and the key information it contains.

"A property owner has the right to appeal to the Hopkins County Appraisal Review Board on any disagreement with the property's value, exemptions and ownership," he said.

The appraisal review board, more commonly known as the ARB, is an independent panel of county citizens who are responsible for hearing and settling protests from property owners that disagree with an action of the appraisal district.

What should a property owner carefully review?

"Look at the proposed value for 2006," Sherman said. "The letter states the land's value and improvement value for the property for the current year."

Included in the list of improvements are buildings, structures, fences or any other type of fixture to the land.

The letter also contains the 2005 values as well as 2006 information on any exemptions granted on the property.

Homeowners who qualify for property tax homestead exemptions have a limitation on their homes' appraised value, beginning the second year the home qualifies for the exemptions. The appraisal district may not increase home values by more than 10 percent for each year since the last appraisal year.

Letters will give homeowners both the market value of their homes as well as the limited home value. It will also include estimated taxes, based on the new taxable values, and the estimated tax bill if the taxing entities hold the same rate as the current year. Tax rates will be established in August and September, and those rates may differ from the estimated amounts listed in the letter to property owners.

Property owners are responsible for informing the appraisal district of the correct mailing address to be sure there are no mistakes.

"If the letter has an old address, please let the appraisal district know," Sherman said. "The post office forwards mail to a new address only for a short time, and tax bills do not go out until October."

A property owner is liable for additional penalties and interest on a tax bill that is not paid on time.

Property owners who do not get a letter and would like to have the 2006 information on their property are encouraged to contact Hopkins County Appraisal District at 903-885-2173.

The deadline for protesting to the appraisal review board is June 16, Sherman said.

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