From BAD to Good News
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
February 26, 2004
For far too long, property taxpayers have endured seemingly endless, unjust reappraisals in Bexar County. Commissioner's Court has presided over eight straight years of tax rate reductions or retention of rates, yet taxes go up because of the never-ending increases in values. Some of the increases are perhaps justified but too many appear not to be justified.
We are a growth county. Growth is associated with higher value and decline with lower value. Thank goodness we are not declining economically as a community.
Incidentally, I believe the use of Bexar in the name of our appraisal district is misleading to many taxpayers. First of all, we send only one of the five members of the voting Board to the District. Former Councilman and County Commissioner Helen Dutmer is the representative of Bexar County. The Bexar Appraisal District implies wrongly that this is a Bexar County agency. It is not. In fact, Commissioner's Court is in the process of requesting that we rename the district to the Alamo Appraisal District (AAD).
Secondly, the acronym is "bad" is more ways than one. It doesn't sound good. Because BAD is a creature of the State and is governed by state law however, this may take State legislation.
Toward the end of last year, the Bexar Appraisal District (BAD) Board made a very enlightened decision: to hire Michael Amizqueta as the Chief Appraiser of BAD. Mr. Amizqueta is a career appraiser professional. He knows what to do and will get about doing it. To "clear the decks", Mr. Amizqueta has chosen and is assembling a first-rate team prepared to meet the challenge of turning BAD around.
The Board and Chief Appraiser Amizqueta requested the International Association of Appraising Officers to offer recommendations to the District for operational improvements. First crack out of the box: "the district has been without competent leadership for many years." Naturally, "the absence of good leadership has kept the district from developing programs that would produce accurate appraisals and developing a working environment conducive to satisfied, productive employees."
With respect to Chief Appraiser Michael Amizqueta: "It is the opinion of the consultants that Mr. Amezquita is very competent to assess the abilities of the managers." Under "General Comments", the report says, "Consultants also recommend evaluation of all existing managers using a 360 degree program that will indicate how a manager is perceived by his supervisor, his peers, and his subordinates. This should be done as soon as possible… ." It also says, "Consultants recommend that current department managers be given extensive training in leadership skills and team building. The district has suffered low morale for many years… ."
"The informal appeals process needs complete revamping with emphasis on taxpayer service. The informal appeal process should resolve more appeals without a formal hearing. Not all Appraisal Review Board (ARB) members are well qualified for the task. Additional ARB members are needed."
As an observer of many years of BAD and as a former Trustee appointed by the City of San Antonio, I am delighted to see an opportunity for us to turn BAD news to good news!