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Tax Appraisal Press Conference Postponement: Jefferson County Appraisal District Flip Flops Again and Will Concede Giving Depositions

January 5, 2016, 1:13 pm

The local press corps were notified yesterday (Monday, January 4) that a press conference had been tentatively arranged for this Wednesday at 10am at the offices of Brent Coon and Associates to discuss recent developments in the lawsuit pending against the Jefferson County Appraisal District.  The primary issues centered on the decision of the JCAD to refuse to allow Angela Bellard,  the Chief Appraiser in charge of assessments,  to give a deposition in the matter.   The JCAD has now had another change of heart and has agreed to provide Ms. Bellard for a deposition in the near future.

Accordingly, the press conference WILL BE POSTPONED until AFTER her deposition has been taken, and the hearing involving the matter scheduled for this Thursday will now be withdrawn.
 
Brent Coon of Brent Coon and Associates and Bailey Wingate of the Wingate Law Firm  represent Elaine Henderson of Beaumont in a challenge to the manner in which the tax appraiser assesses home valuations in Jefferson County.  Specific challenges were to an unprecedented single year increase in valuations assigned by the rookie appraiser to the 1 ½ story residential homes in Jefferson County, many of which saw 5% or greater increases in assessments in a single year.  Ms. Henderson, who has owned her home for two decades,  saw her appraised value go up over $40,000 for 2015 alone.  “I understand that property values can go up over time, and mine generally have over the years.  That said, I was shocked to see it jump up more than  $40,000 in one year alone, which resulted in thousands of dollars of additional tax liabilities. There was nothing I could see that would suggest such a huge single year increase, and it looks like something that the appraiser did County wide to all 1 ½ story homes, without any explanation to any of us.   I feel that all homeowners should be entitled to a reasonable explanation as to how this happened and how it is justified” says Ms. Henderson. 
 
Brent Coon commented more specifically on the subject by stating:
“Our goal is simple. Our client wants a fair and TRANSPARENT process utilized by the new tax appraiser.  One that is fair to all homeowners in Jefferson County. A process that is completely lacking in any transparency and provides no explanation for how home valuations could go up across the county in such a marked manner in a single year invite a multitude of questions which only the appraiser herself can answer.  Maybe it is more than coincidental that this occurred on Ms. Ballard’s first year on the job. We were very disappointed, and even perplexed,  that the JCAD originally agreed to produce Ms. Ballard for a deposition last month to explain how all of these increases occurred in a single year, and then decided to protect her from a deposition and arbitrarily denied our request. Making it worse, they denied they had ever agreed to it in the first place, when we had already been provided written confirmation.  We are clearly entitled to take such statements in an adversarial discovery process, and were prepared to take this matter up with the presiding judge this Thursday.  Now, at the last minute, the JCAD through their counsel have flip-flopped on the decision again and advised us the deposition will go forward without necessity of Court intervention.  As a consequence, we are now able to postpone a Court hearing and postpone a full press conference until after Ms. Bellard has made an effort to answer all these questions under oath.   The taxing entities involved, which also includes the Beaumont Independent School District, owe it to Ms. Henderson and all other property owners to strictly adhere to accepted guidelines utilized in the appraisal process and to provide adequate and publicly available information to all affected property owners as to how these appraisal valuations are derived. We won’t accept smoke and mirrors. We won’t accept a lack of accountability. We won’t accept misinformation.  We won’t accept efforts to dodge our questions by refusing to give a deposition.   People that are appointed as the watchdogs to this process and whom are appointed to the position directly by the taxing entities who benefit from these increases may not always be able to keep the taxpayers interest at the forefront of the decision making process.  We are going to help intercede in that evaluation and oversight process”.
 
Co-counsel Bailey Wingate goes on to say:  “While it is premature to say one way or the other that there has been a new blanket practice of arbitrarily escalating home values in appraisals with the new appraiser, what we have seen so far in the spreadsheets and other documents we obtained in Public Information Act requests would tend to indicate that valuations have increased significantly over what the true values are in this marketplace as shown by actual recorded home sales,  and it invites a number of questions on the methodologies utilized by the new appraiser to increase those valuations significantly over what the empirical data provided would suggest.  Home owners are not made privy to any of this in the process, which leaves them all to just speculate as to whether their home is worth anything near what the assigned appraisal valuations assesses.   We hope this deposition will provide much better insight into these processes, and if our facts bear out, to work out some sort of reduction on those assessments”.
 
The parties are discussing new dates for depositions of Ms. Bellard and the class representative, Ms. Henderson, and would anticipate that the process will be complete in the next month or so, at which time updates will be provided.

For more information and to visit the BCA Media Repository on the issue – please visit www.bcoonlaw.com/jefferson_county_tax

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Tax Appraisal Press Conference Postponement: Jefferson County Appraisal District Flip Flops Again and Will Concede Giving Depositions

January 5, 2016, 1:13 pm

The local press corps were notified yesterday (Monday, January 4) that a press conference had been tentatively arranged for this Wednesday at 10am at the offices of Brent Coon and Associates to discuss recent developments in the lawsuit pending against the Jefferson County Appraisal District.  The primary issues centered on the decision of the JCAD to refuse to allow Angela Bellard,  the Chief Appraiser in charge of assessments,  to give a deposition in the matter.   The JCAD has now had another change of heart and has agreed to provide Ms. Bellard for a deposition in the near future.

Accordingly, the press conference WILL BE POSTPONED until AFTER her deposition has been taken, and the hearing involving the matter scheduled for this Thursday will now be withdrawn.
 
Brent Coon of Brent Coon and Associates and Bailey Wingate of the Wingate Law Firm  represent Elaine Henderson of Beaumont in a challenge to the manner in which the tax appraiser assesses home valuations in Jefferson County.  Specific challenges were to an unprecedented single year increase in valuations assigned by the rookie appraiser to the 1 ½ story residential homes in Jefferson County, many of which saw 5% or greater increases in assessments in a single year.  Ms. Henderson, who has owned her home for two decades,  saw her appraised value go up over $40,000 for 2015 alone.  “I understand that property values can go up over time, and mine generally have over the years.  That said, I was shocked to see it jump up more than  $40,000 in one year alone, which resulted in thousands of dollars of additional tax liabilities. There was nothing I could see that would suggest such a huge single year increase, and it looks like something that the appraiser did County wide to all 1 ½ story homes, without any explanation to any of us.   I feel that all homeowners should be entitled to a reasonable explanation as to how this happened and how it is justified” says Ms. Henderson. 
 
Brent Coon commented more specifically on the subject by stating:
“Our goal is simple. Our client wants a fair and TRANSPARENT process utilized by the new tax appraiser.  One that is fair to all homeowners in Jefferson County. A process that is completely lacking in any transparency and provides no explanation for how home valuations could go up across the county in such a marked manner in a single year invite a multitude of questions which only the appraiser herself can answer.  Maybe it is more than coincidental that this occurred on Ms. Ballard’s first year on the job. We were very disappointed, and even perplexed,  that the JCAD originally agreed to produce Ms. Ballard for a deposition last month to explain how all of these increases occurred in a single year, and then decided to protect her from a deposition and arbitrarily denied our request. Making it worse, they denied they had ever agreed to it in the first place, when we had already been provided written confirmation.  We are clearly entitled to take such statements in an adversarial discovery process, and were prepared to take this matter up with the presiding judge this Thursday.  Now, at the last minute, the JCAD through their counsel have flip-flopped on the decision again and advised us the deposition will go forward without necessity of Court intervention.  As a consequence, we are now able to postpone a Court hearing and postpone a full press conference until after Ms. Bellard has made an effort to answer all these questions under oath.   The taxing entities involved, which also includes the Beaumont Independent School District, owe it to Ms. Henderson and all other property owners to strictly adhere to accepted guidelines utilized in the appraisal process and to provide adequate and publicly available information to all affected property owners as to how these appraisal valuations are derived. We won’t accept smoke and mirrors. We won’t accept a lack of accountability. We won’t accept misinformation.  We won’t accept efforts to dodge our questions by refusing to give a deposition.   People that are appointed as the watchdogs to this process and whom are appointed to the position directly by the taxing entities who benefit from these increases may not always be able to keep the taxpayers interest at the forefront of the decision making process.  We are going to help intercede in that evaluation and oversight process”.
 
Co-counsel Bailey Wingate goes on to say:  “While it is premature to say one way or the other that there has been a new blanket practice of arbitrarily escalating home values in appraisals with the new appraiser, what we have seen so far in the spreadsheets and other documents we obtained in Public Information Act requests would tend to indicate that valuations have increased significantly over what the true values are in this marketplace as shown by actual recorded home sales,  and it invites a number of questions on the methodologies utilized by the new appraiser to increase those valuations significantly over what the empirical data provided would suggest.  Home owners are not made privy to any of this in the process, which leaves them all to just speculate as to whether their home is worth anything near what the assigned appraisal valuations assesses.   We hope this deposition will provide much better insight into these processes, and if our facts bear out, to work out some sort of reduction on those assessments”.
 
The parties are discussing new dates for depositions of Ms. Bellard and the class representative, Ms. Henderson, and would anticipate that the process will be complete in the next month or so, at which time updates will be provided.

For more information and to visit the BCA Media Repository on the issue – please visit www.bcoonlaw.com/jefferson_county_tax


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