Grayson Co.'s Unfair Appraisals? - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

KTEN News Special Assignment Report

Grayson Co.'s Unfair Appraisals?

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For property owners taxes can be tough, but land, possibly worth more than yours, could be pulling in less in taxes in Grayson County.  KTEN has received complaints.  KTEN's Jocelyn Lockwood investigates.

It's no secret making a living off the land isn't easy, but for farmers it's made through agricultural appraisals.

"The criteria is outlined in law that five of the last seven years it has to be producing and contributing to the economy," said Grayson County Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Teresa Parsons.

But, is the system is being taken advantage of?

It's a fact, some homeowners are shelling out more in taxes than the most valuable commercial property in Sherman.  Why? Ag appraisals.

"And, that's not uncommon for people to question that," Parsons said.  "Just because a property is zoned commercial that's totally different than what we do.   Zoning doesn't dictate the ag use.  The production is what actually dictates if they're eligible for an ag appraisal."

Take a look at this: Prime commercial property next to Walmart in Sherman, backing the Towne Center.  It's valued at more than $460,000... but with it's ag appraisal, it's only being taxed $560.

Taxes at the full value, it would be more than $110,000... That's a major tax break for this: a scattered crop, and old bails of hay.

Parson says, "if there is anything that's questionable that we see either through the aerial photos or inspection, then we may ask the property owner for additional info."

Sherman realtor dean Gilbert says ag exemptions are a double-edged sword, "There are probably isolated situations to where property is quasi commercial property that still has remnants of some ag uses. It's a fine line between something that's being held for investment versus something that's being held for ag purposes."

Here are just a few other examples:

This commercial plot of land... off Travis street and backing up to highway 75... It's worth more than $1.1 million, but it has an ag appraisal... So the owner is only paying $1,376 in taxes, instead of more than $28,000.

Or get this, 8/10-ths of an acre, zoned commercial, near highway 75... It's value: more than $95,000... But, with an ag exemption, it's only being taxed $2.92!

And nearly 1/2 an acre in the same vicinity taxed less than $2, as well.

These properties aren't earning the reduced taxes on their own, though...

Parsons says, "Something about 10 acres.. But if they're part of a bigger track of land."

So is the county losing some much needed money?

Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum says, "Typically, an ag exemption means less tax revenue for a piece of property if you compare it to a commercial or residential then the agricultural tax revenue is typically less."

That's why Judge Bynum is urging the appraisal district to investigate further.

Bynum says, "It's been brought to our attention that there are some properties that maybe go against the spirit of the law, and we just want the appraisal district to look into  it and make sure we've got all the I's dotted and T's crossed."

Bynum says he wants all property owners to be treated fairly.

The County Judge says, "I'm paying my fair share but my neighbor next to me with similar property is receiving an agricultural exemption. We just want good answers out of it."

Chief Appraiser Teresa Parsons adds the county isn't losing money, because the agricultural appraisals are rolled back if the land is developed.

Property owners can then be asked to pay years worth of taxes at once.

If you have a property that you feel is unfairly appraised, contact the Grayson County Appraisal District... and send us an e-mail, too. E-mail KTEN at newsteam@kten.com.

Jocelyn Lockwood, KTEN News.