He's mild-mannered and quiet, reserved and bookish and when Dave Kimbrough appeared before the City Council Wednesday night, he was a fish out of water.
"Just for the record, you work for us!," belted Councilman Boren. "People are mad as hell about this!," chimed Councilman Martin.
"You got your head bit off," said a reporter. "Well, that's your choice of words not mine," he chuckled.
He's been the Chief Appraiser for Lubbock County for 21 years. Weathering decades of complaints about unfair appraisals. Even so, Wednesday's confrontation came as a surprise. "Clearly last night you weren't expecting that kind of reception?," asked a reporter. "No, I wasn't," responded Kimbrough.
So were the tirades justified? Are Lubbock property appraisals completely out of whack? A comparison finds substantial but not shocking differences. Last year Amarillo values rose 4.9%, while Midland actually dropped 2%. Lubbock? Up 6.2%. This year Amarillo is looking at a 4% increase, while Midland is up 3%. Lubbock, more than double that at 7.2% Why? Supply and demand. "Yes, supply and demand," echoed Kimbrough.
Lubbock's doing better than Amarillo and Midland, making property values climb. Even so, Councilman Boren is unhappy the way the Central Appraisal District conducts business. "They don't treat our citizens with courtesy, understanding, in a process that we believe is terribly flawed," he said.
According to Kimbrough, their margin error is 10%. And as for customer service, last year they spoke to 16,000 people. "We're accustomed to a lot of contact here, and do a good job with that I think," he said.
But Boren is unswayed. "You can play numbers, you can play the average game, but the fact is, we all know what took place, and is taking place, and it's time to stop it," he said.
And from Kimbrough, appraisals will never be perfect. "There's not a way, that I know of, to get to no margin of error," he said.