CALLAHAN COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Homeowners of Callahan County are seeking answers after receiving notices of major appraisal value increases on their homes and properties.

Across the county, if you ask around, you’ll hear reactions like “this is crazy” and “I just want an explanation” after residents got these appraisal value notices in the mail.

“My back yard went from $1,030 last year to $4,400 value, and that’s the backyard,” Baird resident Sara Crow told KTAB/KRBC.

Since 2018, Crow said her appraisal value has increased by more than 300%, and she said she’ll most likely have to pay much more on her taxes this year for her back yard. Because she is older than 65, she won’t have to worry about the taxes on her home, but some others won’t be so lucky. 

“I know people surrounding me,” said Crow. “They can’t handle those kind of tax increases.”

For Clyde resident Jake Necessary, his land appraisal went up more than 900% since 2018, jumping drastically this year. 

“On 16.5 acres, it went from $8,000 to $85,000,” Necessary detailed. 

Necessary said he simply wants answers as to why.

In a statement given to KTAB/KRBC by Chief Appraiser Mathew Walker with the Callahan Central Appraisal District, he explained they are required by the state to appraise at 100% market value. However, in a recent study done in February, they fell far behind, and adjustments had to be made.

The full statement reads as follows: 

“Callahan Central Appraisal District recently sent notices to taxpayers and many county residents are wanting to know why the values have increased so dramatically. The primary reason for the change is the high market in the area. Per the Texas property tax code, The Appraisal district is to appraise at 100 percent of Market Value. The State Comptroller audits the appraised values of all counties and compares sales prices with local appraised values. The Appraisal District’s appraisals are required to be within the margin of error of 95%- 105% of selling prices, or Market value. In the most recent study released in February, the appraisal ratios of school districts in Callahan County fell far behind selling prices.  
Callahan CAD, with the assistance of Western Valuation has measured recent sales against appraised values especially focusing on land and homes, the two categories that were indicating the lowest values. The values were below what sales information available to the district indicated, and therefore an adjustment was made.  
If the values do not meet this standard of appraisal, the schools will lose some level of state funding as values are adjusted upward in comparison to other schools across the state. The Callahan appraisal district is not alone in failing to adjust to current value. 270 school districts failed to meet the Comptroller standards this year.  
Movement of thousands of people to the Lone Star state daily has put pressure on housing all across the state, even smaller communities as people have learned how to work from home and can choose to leave the larger cities of the state for smaller towns with a less-hectic environment, better traffic situations, and nice people.  
Property owners are encouraged to file a protest if they feel their value is above what they could sell their property for. They will be provided recent sales data of similar homes and land on which the value was based, and they can present their own data. The deadline for filing a protest of value is May 26th.” 

While Clyde real estate agent of 19 years, Sarah Fay Faynan, told KTAB/KRBC she agrees with the statement that more people are moving to rural cities, she said it isn’t fair for the district to raise appraisals this high in one year, since the market is constantly changing. In addition, Faynan said she would have liked better communication between the district and residents.

“Really, our community has been completely blindsided,” shared Faynan. “I see a lot of people calling me and saying, ‘I don’t know if I can afford my payment, and I’m going to have to sell my house, and then am I going to be able to afford a new house?'”

If mandated by the State of Texas, Faynan suggested a town hall meeting should have been held, or even a note sent out to residents ahead of time.

“If they are going to tax people, they need to do it fairly across the board,” Faynan advocated for her neighbors and clients. “They can’t take a home that is from 1930 that’s not been remodeled – not been improved, anything like that, and take another home that is from 1930 and has been completely remodeled and make it to where the tax is the same for both properties. That’s not fair.” 

Faynan said these taxes make the county unaffordable to residents who have been there for years, even generations. It also has upset newer residents who move to rural cities for lower taxes and payments.

A tax rate has not yet been set, so residents don’t know for sure yet what they will be paying in taxes this year. According to the appraisal district, that number will be set sometime around September.