TxDOT, how do I mistrust thee? Let me count the ways.

txdotlogo To say our state Dept of Transportation has an image problem is a huge understatement.  What they have is an EGO problem. 

They think we work for them. They think my money is their money.  They think I (and any other concerned taxpayer) am an idiot.

You can’t even sue them when their projects destroy your property – so I guess they actually ARE above the law. 

Perhaps that causes the arrogance they exude at every opportunity. So maybe it isn’t really their fault at all.

No, scratch that – they an are arrogant, power-corrupt operation that needs reeled in.  And that is exactly what I will be looking for in the next candidate for Governor  I vote for.  And I’ll be looking for the same “Tame TxDOT” quality in ANY state representatives I vote for – be they Congressman or Judges.

So I was quite pleased to see I am not alone in my displeasure with TxDOT.

The confidence of the Legislature and the public are very important to us," says Lippincott. "We still have work to do, but we are confident that our ongoing efforts to improve the transparency and accessibility of TxDOT are making a positive impact. We look forward to our continued work with the members and staff of the Sunset Commission.

Commission releases scathing report on TxDOT – Austin Business Journal:

When your Tax Assessor isn’t.

Appraisal is defined as, "An expert or official valuation, as for taxation."

Which makes it apparent that what Bexar Appraisal District (BAD) is doing is absolutely the latter part of that definition.  They are not offering an "expert valuation", just an "official valuation".

To offer an expert valuation one must actually a) have knowledge in the subject matter and b) examine the subject.

So let’s look at how Bexar Appraisal District set the new valuation for my house. 

First, we must understand the Texas Property Tax Code, which states (in my words):

The  maximum increase in a homeowner’s assessed value is 10% per year times the number of years since the property was last appraised.

What that means is that if you did not get a property tax increase in 2007 (and you did not appeal), they can increase it 20% in 2008.  If your last increase was in 2004 (and you did not appeal any of those years between), they can increase your taxes 40% in 2008.  This is what our government calls a "cap".  I call it bull-cap.

Before I continue, and to make sure this post has more value then just a rant – if you pay personal property taxes in Texas, you must appeal your tax assessment every year – even if it did NOT increase.  If you appeal, and lose, then the next year the maximum increase is 10%.  If you do not appeal, your maximum next year increase is double that!

Plus, if everyone appeals every year we will break the system – they will be forced to fix it.  I know the cure might be worse than the problem, but I honestly don’t think that is very likely (or even possible).

To re-enforce why I believe this, let’s look at the "magic math" that my "assessors" performed when re-evaluating the annual taxes on my property (property they have not actually visited in at least 6 years):

"What would we have to assess this property at to make damn sure we get every penny of the ten percent increase we are allowed to charge?  $49,060?  Cool.  Assessment complete."

I DO NOT believe that was the intent of the "cap" passed by the Texas Government, and I do not believe that a "Tax Assessor" should be allowed this reckless, negligent, blatantly self-serving and morally criminal behavior.  Using the maximum value you can find to extract the absolute maximum amount of taxes is not performing an assessment. 

It is performing a theft.

It is also clear that no professional assessments are being done whatsoever.  Computer software is calculating how much the Government can take from you.  And then they take it.

The more I learn about our Property Tax system the more embarrassed I am that we have such a fundamentally misnamed, and morally bankrupt Government Agency.

Finally, I am actually talking to an Attorney about this – my thought is that the Bexar Appraisal District is not performing it’s stated function, which is:

Within this site you will find general information about the District and the ad valorem property tax system in Texas, as well as information regarding specific properties within the district.

Bexar Appraisal District is responsible for appraising all real and business personal property within Bexar County. The district appraises property according to the Texas Property Tax Code and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP).

Bexar Appraisal District is responsible for the fair market appraisal of properties within each of the following taxing entities:

Instead, all they are doing is employing computer software to calculate the maximum possible revenue extraction from the tax-payers which fall under its jurisdiction.  This argument will be part of my appeal to BAD.  I will challenge them to demonstrate any mechanisms employed to "assess" my property.  I will also file a Freedom of Information Act request to see the internal workings of the computer software being utilized by BAD to set, monitor, adjust, analyze, or report on any aspect of the property valuations BAD has set for my residence.