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Board of Directors Meeting Minutes – March 11, 2021

Williamson Central Appraisal District

Board of Directors Meeting

Minutes of March 11, 2021


Charles Chadwell, Chairman, called the regular meeting of the Williamson Central Appraisal
District Board of Directors to order Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 9:01 a.m.
Board members
present; Charles Chadwell, Harry Gibbs, Donald Hisle, Jon Lux, Lora Weber, and Larry Gaddes.

Quorum declared.

This meeting was conducted via a RingCentral videoconference. Some of the District’s
management staff attended the virtual meeting.

Receipt of Public Comments

Carol Frey, the Appraisal Review Board Chair, was present and indicated she would speak
during an item listed later on the agenda.

Lankford announced that an obituary had been published for former Board of Director
member, Brig Mireles. He read a portion of this obituary.

There were no other public comments.

The Taxpayer Liaison Officer’s Report was postponed until later in the meeting.

Consider approval of minutes of the Board of Directors for the regular meeting – February 11,
2021.

Weber made a motion to approve the February 11, 2021 minutes as presented. Lux
seconded. The motion carried unanimously.

Consideration of Monthly Financials

The January 2021 financials and expenditures were reviewed and filed for audit.

Reserve Expenditure for Portable Building for ARB / Single Member ARB Panels

Lankford indicated that Carol Frey, the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) Chair, was
present to discuss some concerns for ARB members. Sound issues as well as the
limited size of one panel room were mentioned. The smaller room was used primarily for
virtual hearings the previous year.
Lankford indicated that he had investigated some
options. He informed the Board that one of the District’s larger rooms had been
converted into two ARB panel rooms to allow for distancing. A curtain had been installed
in this room to divide the space. He also indicated that one office was converted into an
ARB panel room.
Lankford discussed the issue that this room was not designed
originally with this wall and therefore sound transference was an issue. He expressed
that the District building is out of space and depending on how extensive the changes,
and if too substantial a dividing wall is necessary, a building permit would need to be
obtained.
He mentioned other options which would displace District staff.

Lankford also investigated the purchase of portable buildings. These were found to be
quite costly. Lankford reviewed these costs. He also expressed issues with the need to
install electric, water and ramp access for this type of building.

Lankford had explored another option of single-member ARB panels. He indicated that
this option would solve the sound transference issue; it would allow for one ARB
member to conduct individual hearings. He informed the Board that this option would
only be available to those property owners who chose it; they would have to waive their
right to a panel hearing with three members.

Lankford informed the Board that he had spoken with Frey previously and, in reviewing
property values, he felt the District would see an increased number of properties
protested this year compared to other years. He recommended utilizing the current ARB
panel set up, adding insulation, and only moving to single member panels if necessary,
depending on the volume of property owners proceeding to the ARB.

Frey expressed a few concerns pertaining to the ARB. She mentioned that, according to
section 41.45(d) of the Texas Property Tax Code, an ARB may sit in panels of no less
than three members. Frey also indicated that the ARB consisted of a lot of new people
and to have single panel hearings would entail needing strong members. She mentioned
deferring single panel hearings until later in the year when new members were trained.
Frey informed the Board of a few issues with obtaining ARB members. Lankford
indicated that single panels wouldn’t be necessary until later in April or May.

Lankford mentioned that a portion of the two ARB panels would be walled off to help with
sound issues. Single panel ARB hearings will be discussed later in the process. Gaddes
asked Lankford to address again Frey’s concerns regarding panel members not being
allowed to sit in panels of less than three members. Lankford reminded the Board that
the single member ARB panel could only be utilized if the property owner agreed to sign
a waiver to give up the right of a three-person hearing. Gaddes expressed that placing
this responsibility on one person could be difficult; but he realized the importance of the
deadlines for the protest season. He expressed his appreciation for the work done by the
appraisal district and mentioned how the efficient way the District handles protests
benefits the taxing units as well as the tax office.

Both the Board and Lankford expressed their appreciation to the ARB for the
outstanding job they do; it was mentioned what a huge part they play in getting the
appraisal roll certified. Lankford will provide an update on this item to the Board at a
future meeting.

Taxpayer Liaison Officer’s Report

Report on Property Owner Contacts

Charley Rouse, the District’s Taxpayer Liaison Officer, was present to report on
the status of his contact with property owners. He reported having received no calls
from property owners within the last month.

Update on Appointment of Appraisal Review Board by Administrative Law Judge

Rouse provided an update on the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) appointments.
He thanked Rae Wilhite, the District’s Records Manager, for her assistance in
keeping in communication with the judge’s office.

Wilhite mentioned that the District was still waiting for the judge to name one
additional auxiliary ARB member and one regular member. Rouse was thanked
for his assistance in the process.

Coronavirus Vaccine for Staff ~ Stipend or Paid Time Off Approval

Lankford reminded the Board of the previous discussion they had regarding the
Coronavirus and how he would like to encourage staff to obtain the vaccination. Even
though it would be allowed, he did not feel making the vaccination mandatory was a
good option.
Lankford indicated that he would like to offer a $100 stipend or four hours of
paid time off to those employees who choose to be vaccinated. He informed the Board
that Pflugerville ISD had offered their staff a similar stipend and that he had contacted
the District’s attorney to ensure this was an acceptable use of public funds. Lankford
expressed his concern of exposing staff, the ARB, and the public upon entry to the
office.
He discussed the budget numbers and reminded the Board of the statutory
deadlines the District is required to meet for every taxing unit to perform their functions.
Discussion followed.

Hisle made a motion to approve a one-time stipend of $100 or 4 hours of paid time off,
per the employee’s choice, for District employees who choose to be vaccinated for the
COVID-19 virus. Weber seconded. Discussion followed. The motion carried 4-1. Hisle,
Weber, Chadwell and Gibbs voted for. Lux opposed. Gaddes is a non-voting member.

Gaddes reminded the other members that he had chosen to serve on the Board of
Directors as an ex-officio member. It was indicated that Gaddes can make a motion
during a meeting but cannot vote.

Pictometry Change Finder

Lankford displayed the results from the Pictometry Change Finder project. He indicated
that once every six years, the District undergoes sketch validation where sketches, with
updated imagery, located in the District’s software are overlayed onto its properties to
detect updates. He announced this year’s return-on-investment numbers which were
showing at 746%.
Lankford expressed that these updates ensure all property owners are
being appraised fairly. In doing so, it helps get appropriate funding for the District’s
taxing units.

Review & Compensation of Taxpayer Liaison Officer / Chief Appraiser Evaluation &
Compensation Process

Executive Session began at 9:54 a.m. and ended at 10:24 a.m.

Consideration and possible action on items discussed in Executive Session

Review & Compensation of Taxpayer Liaison Officer

Hisle made a motion to provide Charley Rouse, the District’s Taxpayer Liaison
Officer, a $50 per month salary increase. Lux seconded. The motion carried
unanimously.

Chadwell voiced his appreciation to Rouse for his work. Rouse expressed his
gratitude for being part of the process at the District.

Chief Appraiser Evaluation & Compensation Process

Lux provided a summary of the status of the Chief Appraiser evaluation and
compensation process. He indicated that he and Rufus Honeycutt, a former Board
member, who comprise the committee working on this process, were still
evaluating to attempt to formalize a procedure to align with the District’s budget

process.

Lux and Honeycutt were planning to reach out to the District’s entities to make
them aware of the process. The Board members felt this was acceptable and plan
to discuss this item at a future meeting. No motion was made.

Gibbs left the meeting at 10:28 a.m.

Chief Appraiser’s Report

Notice of Appraised Value Review

Lankford reviewed the notice of appraised value document and pointed out some
of the revisions. He reminded the Board that quotes from realtors and others
would be included on the front page showing that the real estate market is
increasing.
He also mentioned that the sales comparison grid would be included
with the notice. Lankford reviewed the changes.

Lankford discussed the tax rate website, mentioning that discussions were
occurring on when this website would be populated with the District’s values.

Gaddes mentioned the property owner postcards and indicated that he would be
reaching out with some suggestive language.
Lankford informed the Board that
this item would be discussed further prior to postcards being mailed. He indicated
that notice of appraised values were planned to be placed in the mail to property
owners on March 31st.

Website Update / Open Assessment

Lankford displayed the District’s website. He indicated that a new temporary
exemption for damaged properties was available for certain owners after the
recent winter storm. He described how the exemption is calculated and informed
the members that a calculator had been included on the District’s website. This
calculator will estimate if a property owner would qualify for the level of damage
covered by this exemption.
Lankford mentioned that a press release had also
been posted regarding this exemption. Gaddes thanked K.C. McDade, the
District’s Director of Operations, for his work on providing this information.
Discussion followed.

Lankford displayed the open assessment page on the District’s website. He
expressed that the District would see the most benefit for this information through
its public information requests.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) for Tax Office Calls

Lankford mentioned that the District often receives calls that should have been
directed to the tax office. He indicated that the District now has an interactive
voice response (IVR) system that assists with transferring these calls directly
without staff involvement.

Legislative Updates

Lankford announced that not a lot of movement had taken place with legislation
that might affect the District. He mentioned that he had testified recently
concerning a procedural violation bill.

Lankford reported that the legislature’s current focus was not on property tax
bills.

Property Value Study Update

Lankford informed the Board that when deciding to send appraisal notices at a
reduced value, he understood that the District would likely see some school
district’s fall below the margin of error found acceptable by the Comptroller. He
reported that there had been five districts that were affected.
Lankford mentioned
a few items that were being investigated in order to get back into compliance. He
also mentioned a two-year grace period, which means there will be no harm to
these districts.
Lankford announced that this issue would be resolved for the
coming year.

Methods & Assistance Program (MAP) Review Update

Lankford announced that the Methods & Assistance Program (MAP) Review
occurs the opposite year of the Property Value Study by the Comptroller’s office.
He indicated this to be a MAP Review year for the District. He announced that
this year the District was allowed a limited scope review, due to the issues
caused by having the office closed for a short period due to the Coronavirus.
This
limited review reduces the number of questions required to be answered.

Lankford announced that the District had received a passing score for their MAP
Review.

Town Hall / Video Broadcast & Recording of Meeting

Lankford discussed the possibility of a Town Hall meeting similar to the one
conducted in prior years. He mentioned that property owner questions during this
meeting are quite time consuming and conducting in the open format may be
difficult. He suggested resuming this meeting in 2022.

Chadwell expressed his wishes to proceed with looking into a virtual Town Hall
meeting. He suggested providing an email address for property owners to supply
their questions in advance.

Chadwell also discussed the possibility of video broadcasting and recording
Board meetings. He felt doing so and providing to the public would help eliminate
questions that may arise regarding separating what is done at the appraisal
district versus the tax office.

Gaddes expressed his opinion that, with the current format of the Town Hall
meeting, it might be best to have a recorded presentation and perhaps forego
questions. The possibility of including a list of frequently asked questions was
discussed.

Weber suggested a webinar format where property owners could be notified
ahead of time that only a limited number of questions would be addressed.

2021 Entity Meeting Reminder

Lankford announced that the Entity Meeting was scheduled for Monday, March
29th and asked that Board members RSVP by March 15th.

Board Packet Printing

Lankford commented regarding the printing of packets for Board meetings. He
felt it would be more cost-effective to purchase print cartridges for Board
members to print their own documents.

Lawsuit, Arbitration and SOAH Reports

Lankford reviewed the lawsuit and arbitration reports and discussed how costs
are calculated. There were not any State Office of Administrative Hearings
(SOAH) on which to report.

Board Member Photos

Lankford mentioned the update of the Board photos in the District’s lobby. He
indicated that this was a low priority item and that he would bring this back to the
Board at a future meeting. The Board agreed that there was no urgency in
getting the photos replaced.

Board Agenda Additions for Future Meeting

  • Chadwell mentioned that Board members are always welcome to request
    agenda additions through either himself or Lankford.

Board Announcements

  • There were no Board announcements.

The Board set their next meeting date as follows:

  • Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.

The Board mentioned that this meeting could be a mixture of in person and virtual
attendance depending on each individual member’s preference.

The meeting adjourned at 11: 15 a.m.

Respectfully,

 

Charles Chadwell, Chairman                                   Donald L. Hisle, Secretary

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