Monthly COVNA Meeting


7:00 p.m. Monday, April 17th
Southwest Church of Christ
8900 Manchaca Rd. (Rear Entrance)

Tax Appraisal Hike Imminent
Find Out How Much

Art Cory, Chief Appraiser for Travis County, will speak about property tax increases we are all about to receive. He states, “We are completing the most aggressive reappraisal since my arrival in Austin 17 years ago. Currently the real estate market is very strong nationwide and particularly in Texas. I will talk about taxpayer rights under the system including how to protest, and exemptions that can lower taxes.” Travis County properties will receive a 15 to 50% hike in taxable values with homes falling in the 15 to 20% range (see reprint of Statesman article below).

This is a meeting you need to attend.

Mr. Cory has been the Chief Appraiser in Austin since 1988. Prior to that he was the Assistant Chief Appraiser in Houston. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1962 with a degree in Math.

4 /15 - Rubber Eraser Day

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4/21 - John Muir Day

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Floyd Clark
Greg Estes
Helen Lightfoot
Hal Ferguson
Doug Tabony
Doug DuBois
Doug DuBois
President (282-8245)
Vice President (282-2782)
Secretary (282-2256)
Treasurer (282-0601)
Newsletter (280-4080)
ANC Delegate (292-9323)
Past President (292-9323)

Monthly meetings are held on the third Monday
of the month.
January 16th
February 20th
March 20th
April 17th
May 15th
June Picnic TBA
September 18th
October 16th
November 20th
Dec Party 18th


Senior Officer Dwayne Kinley spoke at last months meeting. He is our Austin Police Department District Representative from the Southwest Command. He talked about home and neighborhood security. He was an interesting and energetic speaker, and answered all the questions which arose.

He repeatedly said that if you see someone suspicious or someone acting in a suspicious manner call 911. Don’t confront the individual, just describe your suspicions to the operator.

He emphasized that one way to prevent home burglaries during the day time is for the people to be out walking in the neighborhood. The bad guys don’t want to be caught or identified, so they probably won’t break in a home while the neighbors are watching. The more people who are on the street, the more eyes are watching for suspicious behavior.

Officer Kinley handed out APD’s 2006 Resource Manuals. These contain virtually all the contact information for the City of Austin activities. We ran out of them but there will be more of them at out next meeting. He also gave us some “Neighborhood Crime Watch Training Manuals.”

He encouraged our ongoing effort to create a Neighborhood Watch program. To be successful, the program needs a commitment from a significant percentage of our neighbors. A block captain or two (for some of our longer streets) would help organize participants on each street. The booklet – How to Start a Neighborhood Watch – will continue to be available at future monthly meetings. I recommend you get together with your neighbors and invite Officer Kinley to help you get started.

Floyd Clark


Here is a reprint of a Statesman article that relates to our upcoming meeting:

Travis County can expect higher property appraisals
Double-digit increases required by state law

By Laylan Copelin
Saturday, February 11, 2006

The taxable values of Travis County's offices, apartments and houses are going up dramatically as local appraisers try to comply with a state law that demands that assessed property values catch up to the area's sizzling real-estate market.

The increases will be historic and broad, said Chief Appraiser Art Cory of the Travis Central Appraisal District. Property owners will be notified of the new values beginning in mid-April.
"We're going to have the biggest reappraisal in Travis County history," Cory said. "At least in the 18 years I've been here."

On average, Cory said:
•Commercial buildings and apartments will experience a 20 percent increase.
•High-end projects could experience 30 to 40 percent increases for apartments and as much as 50 percent for some commercial buildings.
•Homes valued at $1 million or more could experience a 30 to 40 percent jump.
Most homes will receive taxable values that are 15 to 20 percent higher. State law limits new taxation to the first 10 percent of the reappraised value, but tax on the remainder is added in future years.

There is no annual cap on increases for the taxable value of commercial buildings, multifamily properties or rental houses.

State law requires local governments and school districts to lower their tax rates so they do not raise more revenue just because of an appraisal windfall, meaning the increase in tax bills could be buffered for some properties.

The new appraisals will affect individual properties differently. For example, taxes would escalate more on a $1 million home that suddenly is valued at $1.5 million than a modest home that experiences only a 10 percent increase.

The reappraisal of Travis County property was prompted by the state comptroller's annual review of local property values. That study, completed in January, confirmed what Cory expected: Taxable values are badly trailing sales prices in a market where the October sale of the CarrAmerica building in downtown Austin set a state record at almost $300 a square foot.

Also, Austin has erased its glut of existing single-family homes on the market with three years of record sales, and, finally, last year prices began to rise. In January, the market set a record median price of $164,000.

The largest increases in appraisals will be focused on the county's core: all of the properties within a circle of Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) on the west and U.S. 183 on the east, as well as the outlying portions of the Eanes school district and Lake Travis areas.

Only property owners in the Pflugerville and Manor school districts are likely to escape double-digit increases. Taxable values there, according to the comptroller's study, are close to market rates. Also, the taxable values in the larger school districts in Williamson and Hays counties appear to be in line with the market.

Charles Heimsath, president of Capitol Market Research, studies real estate trends. He said he is shocked by the prospect of such large increases. "It seems very difficult to fathom that much rise in value in only 12 months," he said. Heimsath said the local office market has an occupancy rate of only 85 percent. He said the area's apartment recovery is nascent, with rents just beginning to go up the past six months. "It seems to me the sale of CarrAmerica has more to do with the irrational exuberance for the future of Austin as opposed to current conditions," Heimsath said. "There seems to be a disconnect between what's actually happening in the recovery and these unbelievable increases." If higher property values translate into higher taxes, Heimsath said some building projects could suddenly become unfeasible and the construction industry could "grind to a halt."

Property owners still will be able to challenge their appraised values.

Schools would pay

Cory said he has no choice under state law. It requires local appraisers to set property values at 95 percent of market value. The comptroller is charged with checking the work of local appraisers. When they fail to keep the taxable values near the market rate for two years in a row, state law penalizes public school districts. The state reduces aid to property-poor districts, and the tax money that wealthy districts must share with the state increases.
"Our schools are going to be penalized if we don't do this," Cory said.

There are seven school districts in Travis County. The taxable values in five of them are lagging behind the market. Those are Austin, Del Valle, Eanes, Lago Vista and Lake Travis.
Austin is the largest. Its taxable value of $40.7 billion should be $45 billion, according to the comptroller.

Lago Vista, however, faces a more immediate problem because, unlike the other school districts, this is the second year that its tax roll was less than the market.
The school district already shares 39 percent of its tax money — $3.8 million — with property-poor districts. Unless the problem is fixed, Lago Vista would be forced to share an additional $800,000. Cory said he plans to appeal the Lago Vista values because he thinks that the comptroller's study overvalued the thousands of vacant lots in that lake resort district.

He has no hope of appeal for Austin, Eanes, Lake Travis and Del Valle because there are plenty of sales, particularly for commercial property and apartments, to confirm higher appraisals. "The market is very easy to define," Cory said. "When we have this many sales, that is the market, and you can't ignore it."

A burden for some

Debi Wehmeier, president of the Austin Apartment Association, said taxes already represent 60 percent of operating expenses for a typical apartment complex. "Owners are already shocked at the taxes in Austin," she said. "They'll be a whole lot of people fighting their appraisals." With occupancy rates approaching 95 percent, the apartment market is recovering, but Wehmeier said rents are rising slowly and remain below 2000 levels. Higher taxes would only add to the pressure on rents, she predicted. She acknowledged that some apartment complexes sold last year for more than their taxable value. She said the buyers are placing bets that the recovery will continue but noted, "This recovery is very slow."

Susana Almanza, director of the East Austin group People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources, said she is not surprised by the higher appraisals. She cited a small home in East Austin, 990 square feet, that recently sold for $325,000. Families that cannot afford higher taxes on higher appraisals are moving to the suburbs and smaller towns near Austin. She said East Austin is losing the tradition of one generation passing its home to the next. "When the elderly pass on, it's hard to pass their legacy to their children," she said.


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From Dara Shifrer of the
Aspect Foundation

We’re looking for a few good homes interested in supporting a foreign exchange student for the school year of 2006-2007! Being a host family is the closest that you can come to actually experiencing a different culture without traveling. Besides enabling an amazing experience for the student, you are truly contributing to increasing understanding and tolerance on an international level.

We currently have student applicants from Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Moldova, Norway, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam. Some of these students have specifically requested placement in the southern United States – and how lucky are the students placed in the great city of Austin!

You must be able to provide room and board for the students, but all other costs are covered by their families (including a monthly stipend to cover any incidentals). You can find more information on the organization facilitating this and on the process of becoming a
host family at: I am the International Coordinator (IC) for the Austin area. If your family is interested or you know of a family who would be interested in this opportunity, please contact me at