Protesting your property appraisal? Expect a socially-distanced process

In-person formal hearing will still happen, but involve technology, Plexiglass

In-person formal hearing will still happen, but involve technology, Plexiglass

SAN ANTONIO – David Ceballos dropped his protest notice in the drop-box outside the Bexar County Appraisal District (BCAD) on Thursday.

“I hope it gets to the right people,” he said.

His 1940s Jefferson area home was appraised 23% higher than last year.

“Of course, I have an issue with that,” he said. “According to them, the appraisal was done in January.”

State law requires appraisals to be set according to a property’s value on January 1, long before COVID-19 soured the economy.

So far, BCAD has received more than 75,000 protests. They expect about 40,000 more.

RELATED: Governor Abbott: Texas will not suspend property appraisals this tax year despite pandemic

For people who appeal, the process looks a little different this year. For starters, the doors to the BCAD remain locked.

“We’re trying to find ways to work smarter to keep the public safe,” said Mike Amezquita, chief appraiser for BCAD.

Property owners are encouraged to file notices of appeal online through, by mail or by using the dropbox.

The informal back and forth, where property owners can submit evidence, will be handled by phone or by email.

The vast majority of appeals -- 92% of them last year -- are typically settled informally.

Amezquita said staff members are offering settlements on the lower end of a property’s range of value.

If you still aren’t satisfied, you can get an in-person formal hearing -- only it’s 2020 style.

“You can have the equivalent of a Zoom meeting if you’re not comfortable coming in, but it is something that is required if you ask for it for us to provide you an in-person hearing," Amezquita said.

Now, staff members are readying hearing spaces with plexiglass to separate speakers with video monitors so that staff can attend remotely. The formal hearings are before a three-member panel of the Appraisal Review Board, mostly older, retired people.

“I’ve already had three defect,” Amezquita said.

The formal hearings likely won’t happen until after August because of volume and a process slowed by precautions.

The last batch of more than a half-million appraisal notices was mailed May 29. The deadline to file a notice of appeal for those is June 29.

MORE: Texas won’t freeze property appraisals amid coronavirus pandemic

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.