The Fort Bend Central Appraisal District (FBCAD) 2023 budget

Fort Bend Central Appraisal District vs. Statewide per Appraisal

Fort Bend County versus Texas

O’Connor’s property tax experts thoroughly examined the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District budget plan for parcels and ARB for fall 2023.

HOUSTON, TEXAS, UNITED STATES, February 14, 2024 / — Fort Bend Central Appraisal District 2021 budget totaled $15.65 million, including $1.09 million for the Fort Bend County ARB.

The Fort Bend Central Appraisal District (FBCAD) 2021 budget of $15.65 million equates to $40.4 per tax parcel (387,316 2021 tax parcels). The FBCAD budget per tax parcel is 50% higher than the statewide average of $28 for 2021. Texas-wide appraisal district budgets were $585 million in 2021. FBCAD accounts for 2.6% of the total.

Fort Bend Central Appraisal District’s budget per tax parcel is higher than the state average but similar to the budget per parcel for similar size counties (appraisal districts in counties with similar populations) The budget total is $40 per tax parcel, higher than the Texas appraisal district budget of $28 per parcel. Following are the counties with the highest appraisal district budgets.

Fort Bend Central Appraisal District’s budget increased by 8.7% annually from 2011 to 2021. The FBCAD budget was $9.73 million in 2011 and rose to $15.65 million in 2021, a 61% increase.

The Fort Bend County Appraisal Review Board budget totaled $1.09 million in 2021, higher than most similar-sized counties.

Staffing at Fort Bend Central Appraisal District has increased substantially, from 100 in 2014 to 144 in 2021. Fort Bend Central Appraisal District employed 57 appraisers in 2021, up from 46 in 2014. Fort Bend Central Appraisal District is fully staffed in comparison to statewide appraisal district averages. Fort Bend Central Appraisal District has added 9 appraisers and 35 administrative staff since 2014.

There are 3,200 tax parcels per employee at Fort Bend Central Appraisal District versus a statewide average of 4,413 tax parcels per appraiser, both for 2021.

Fort Bend Central Appraisal District employed 1 appraiser for every 7,467 accounts versus 8,435 statewide.

Fort Bend Central Appraisal District has a higher portion of administrative / operations staff compared to appraisers, based on a statewide comparison of data compiled by the Texas Comptroller. FBCAD staff is allocated about 39% appraisers and 61% administrative. Statewide staff allocation at appraisal districts is 52% appraisers and 48% administrative.

Fort Bend County concentrates its appraisal resources more on commercial and industrial / business personal property relative to other Texas appraisal districts. Only 39% of Fort Bend County appraisers value houses while 51% of appraiser’s statewide focus on residential. The allocation for commercial is similar; 23% of appraiser’s statewide focus on commercial versus 19% of Fort Bend County appraisers working on valuing commercial. Fort Bend County allocates 28% of appraisers to industrial and business personal property versus 26% statewide. This makes sense given the massive industrial / refining/petrochemical facilities and infrastructure in Fort Bend County.

Fort Bend County reports they have revalued every parcel every year from 2014 to 2021. Conversely, statewide appraisal districts revalued about 80 to 90% of parcels during this period. The high frequency of tax assessment valuations differentiates Texas from most states. Most states revalue every 3 to 6 years.

The total Fort Bend County property tax levy rose from $1.44 billion in 2014 to $2.24 billion in 2021, a 56% increase. The rate of growth of property tax levy in Fort Bend County is more than double the rate of population growth, 26% during 2014 to 2021. The per capita property tax levy rose more quickly than population, indicating a high rate of property tax growth, which eventually in Senate Bill 2 which capped the property tax levy growth to 3.5% for cities and counties (3.5% plus new construction) and 2.5% for schools plus new construction.

Texas statewide tax levy grew from $43 billion in 2013 to $81 billion in 2021, a 69% increase or 8.6% per year, which is much faster than population growth plus inflation. This high rate of growth in the tax levy caused the tax level per person to climb an eye-popping 88% during 2013 to 2021. Senate Bill 2 pass in the 2021 legislative session should reduce the rate of per capita property tax growth.

Fort Bend County’s per capita property taxes grew 25% during 2013 to 2021 versus 88% for Texas. The Fort Bend County per capita property tax grew from $1,990 in 2014 to $2,478 in 2021. The statewide per capita tax levy started lower, but the high rate of growth brought the statewide level to mirror the Fort Bend County level. Statewide property tax levy per person was $2,748 to Fort Bend County in 2021 versus $2,740 statewide in 2021.

Fort Bend County has a higher level of staffing for appraisal review board members compared to the statewide average. Fort Bend County Appraisal Review Board has 8,600tax parcels per appraisal review board (ARB) member versus 11,498 statewide. This makes sense since FBCAD has made liberal use of the appraisal review board.

Many, if not most, ARB members are retired. This puts them at risk of more severe health consequences if they caught COVID. Regardless, the Fort Bend County Appraisal Review Board grew from 39 in 2019 to about 45 in October 2023, a 15% reduction.

Appraisal Review Boards in all counties pay appraisal review members to hear tax protests not resolved at the informal hearings. In Texas’ largest counties, the ARB meets 5 or 6 days a week for an extended period: many months. Harris County and Hays County tied for first place in highest number of ARB hearings in 2021 with 158 days of ARB hearings.

The appraisal review board is the second of a three-step process. The first two steps are the informal hearing and appraisal review board hearings, collectively referred to as “administrative hearings”. After the administrative hearings, property owners can elect: 1) binding arbitration, 2) judicial appeal, 3) State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) or do nothing. About 98% of owners elect nothing after the appraisal review board.

Appraisal districts typically have tax protests for about 10 to 25% of the tax parcels, which account for 38% of statewide value. Fort Bend County property owners file property tax protests for about 22% of tax parcels accounting for 43% of the value. More valuable homes are more likely to be protested. Most commercial, industrial, and business personal property is protested most years.

Property owners under-represented in property tax appeals are owners of entry level and mid-range houses. There are a variety of reasons they do not protest. However, the fact that large commercial owners protest annually is indicative of their believe that annual property tax protests are the key to managing property taxes, instead of just accepting whatever value the appraisal district’s government computer spits out. However, most large commercial owners only do half the job; the administrative process.

Most owners of commercial property should be continuing with the appeal process, past the administrative hearings (informal and appraisal review board). Chances are ~90% of another ~10% reduction based on appraisal district data compiled by the Texas Comptroller. These are not claims for our accounts. The reflect statewide aggregate judicial appeal results.

Fort Bend Central Appraisal District has a budget of over $15.65 million, including $1.09 million for the ARB, to accurately value the 387,316 tax parcels in Fort Bend County. Fort Bend County in 2021 employed 144 total staff including 57 appraisers. The FBCAD appraisal staff attempt to accomplish the impossible; to accurately and consistently value real and personal property in Fort Bend County. So FBCAD is certainly attempting to make sure you are at 100% of market value, but what happens when they overshoot?

How Can Fort Bend Central Appraisal District (FBCAD) Overvalue Property

FBCAD values 387,316 tax parcels annually using mass appraisal. At least every 3 years they “inspect” each property using aerial photography. Of course, it not possible to gain much information using aerial photography. Fort Bend Central Appraisal District uses “mass appraisal models” with incomplete property data to value property. Some properties are valued below 100% (but can still be appealed on unequal appraisal). Some properties are assessed in excess of 100% of market value.

Are You Undervalued or Overvalued?
You will never really know if your property is over or under valued unless you:

File a protest prior to the May 15th deadline each year,
Request the hearing evidence the appraisal district plans to use at the hearing (this also freezes the information they can use),
Prepare for and attend informal hearing (~70 to 90% resolved with a reduction), and
Continue to the appraisal review board and beyond if necessary.

What does FBCAD Valuation at 100% Mean?
When Fort Bend Central Appraisal District values properties with a median level of assessment of 100% (relative to market value), it means:

Half of all properties have a market value higher than market value. When arrayed in a graph showing the relationship of the FBCAD value and market value, the data is represented in a bell curve. Some are just a bit low, and some are double market value and higher.
The ~50% valued at under market value are still prime for protest on both market value and unequal appraisal. When you file you protest, ask the appraisal district to send you the hearing evidence package. In most cases, the FBCAD comparable sales data will contain at least a few comparable sales that are helpful. If not, search your street, and neighborhood if necessary, for assessment comparable that support a reduction.
You can protest by either market value (they valued your property at more than it true market value) or unequal appraisal. The concept that a reasonable number of comparable properties appropriately adjusted indicates a lower value. Regardless of the basis of protest, the impact of a lower tax assessment reduces property taxes.
What if You Don’t Have Time or the Temperament to Protest?
Hire us or a competitor. Analysis documents that people who protest consistently pay less property taxes, and the reduction in one year is often impactful in negotiations for following years by reducing the base value.

About O’Connor:
O’Connor is among the largest property tax consulting firms in the United States, providing residential property tax reduction services in Texas, Illinois, and Georgia, as well as commercial property tax reduction services across the United States. O’Connor’s team of professionals possess the resources and market expertise in the areas of property tax, cost segregation, commercial and residential real estate appraisals. The firm was founded in 1974 and employs more than 600 professionals worldwide. O’Connor’s core focus is enriching the lives of property owners through cost effective tax reduction.

Property owners interested in assistance appealing their assessment can enroll in O’Connor’s Property Tax Protection Program ™ . There is no upfront fee, or any fee unless we reduce your property taxes, and easy online enrollment only takes 2 to 3 minutes.

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