Lubbock County Chief Appraiser, Dave Kimbrough, fielded many a question from city council on Tuesday, some he could answer, some he could not. In the end, a portion of the blame for Lubbock's appraisal woes was lifted from Kimbrough's shoulders, but the meeting didn't go without confrontation. "That right there means screw you. That's what that means," said Councilman, Gary Boren, as he reacts to Kimbrough's explanation of the appraisal district's margin of error.
Councilman, Tom Martin, says, "They usually tell you you're not appraising high enough. Get those valuations up. You've got tax money coming in so the state has to put less into public schools. That's what it's all about right?" as he questions why the state comptroller's office has never told the Central Appraisal District to lower appraisals.
Mayor Marc McDougal says, "The problem is with the state formula, not necessarily with what you folks (appraisers) are doing, but with the state." McDougal is stating where the problem really lies. Council admitted that if we want true property tax reform, we need to look to Austin. "It's not Dave Kimbrough's fault, he does what the state dictates him to do," said Councilwoman, Linda DeLeon.
That doesn't mean council let Kimbrough off the hook. Before they will even consider voting for the budget increase he recently asked for, they want to know how Kimbrough will improve customer service and the appraisal process, but even that might not be enough. Boren says, "You have to think we're crazy to put out more appraisers to do more of what they're doing to us. We may have been born at night but not last night." DeLeon says, "You're not going to improve services with no additional money. It takes people."
Kimbrough responded by saying, "There's always things you'd like to do better, but I'm very pleased and proud with the number of people, and the way they're treated. I get very few complaints. I get a lot more compliments than I do complaints."
City council members did lower property taxes to offset increased property valuations last year. They say it's the other taxing entities, such as school and hospital districts that do not follow suit. The state penalizes school districts if they do by taking away $2 of funding for every $1 the tax rate is rolled back, so schools would end up losing money.