It's been four months since hundreds of Lubbock property owners protested this years tax appraisal estimates. Now those estimates have become final and property owners say the numbers are even higher. This as the deadline to protest has passed.
So citizens are turning to City Officials for answers.
City Councilman Gary Boren led the battle to lower high tax appraisals early this summer. In the end, the council lowered the city tax rate to offset the appraisal hike. But now citizens are turning to their elected leaders once again. "I'm getting quite a few e-mails from senior citizens who have paid for their home and they are getting these large tax appraisals," Boren says.
Boren says it was insulting when the estimates came in high, and now that the 'official' numbers are even more it's an even bigger slap in the face. "Values are going up and the tax rate stays the same and it's a double taxation. And it's got to end or we're going to be threatening home ownership," said Boren.
Larry LaRoe and his wife have lived in a central Lubbock home for 43 years, Larry says he's had to pay more every year since he retired, seven years ago. "So I went down to see the taxing entity and they didn't give me much hope for a change, they said that was just the way it was," LaRoe said.
LaRoe protested his increase, and said he was told by the appraisal board that his rate would stay the same as last year. Not true, he says, "It amounted to about a five thousand dollar increase on what the tax was last year. I'm disappointed. I've lived in Lubbock all these years and I love Lubbock and I try to be a good citizen and I just don't think it's fair. I certainly don't think it's fair how they told me they'd drop this back to last year and it amounted to an increase."
For Mr. and Mrs. Clark Johnson it's a different battle. Their appraisal estimate was high, but tolerable; then "137 days later we received our 2003 tax statement, 107 days past the protest deadline without any time to protest and with a tax increase of 13.794%, rather than the .094%. We strongly believe this is taking an unfair advantage of us tax paying citizens whether or not we're in our 80's."
Both men agree the money isn't the issue, it's the principle that they shouldn't be facing these dramatic increases on homes they've owned for almost 50 years and haven't esthetically improved. "What was their explanation as to why it went up 13 more percent? They could give me none, no reason," Johnson said.
As for the Lubbock Central Appraisal District, Deputy Chief Appraiser Pat Brownd says an estimate is just that and the increases are a result of the increasing real estate market values. "It's very confusing and we'd be happy to explain the situation to anybody that occurred to. But it's actually a benefit to the person because they aren't receiving more than a 10% bump in one year. They may receive it the next year," Brownd says.
"I'm at the point now that I think that people who do not support stopping the taxation by appraisals, taxation by evaluation, I think if we can't get elected people to do so, I think its time we identify who these people are and either send them out of office or recall them out of office," Boren said.
Both LaRoe and Johnson are hoping their elected officials can put an end to this ongoing rake hike.