The infrastructure in the Highland Lakes would not be possible without county appraisers who determine the fair market value of property in the nearly 2,000 square miles of Burnet and Llano counties. Without a value attached to real property, taxing entities would not be able to establish and collect taxes that fund government services, fire and police departments, roads, and schools.
The Texas Legislature created central appraisal districts in 1979 to consolidate the work being done by separate taxing entities into one office. Prior to that, a property owner would receive a separate valuation from an appraiser at the city, county, school district, or other special tax district.
While closely related, central appraisal districts work separately from county tax assessors. Appraisers only establish a valuation on property, while tax assessors use the value to collect taxes in the county and distribute it to cities, schools, and county entities.
ESTABLISHING PROPERTY VALUES
The Burnet Central Appraisal District (Burnet CAD), for example, keeps tabs on financial market activity and determines a fair market value for property in its district.
“If you come in and buy, you’re sort of helping determine what market values do,” said Burnet County Chief Appraiser Stan Hemphill.
A property must be appraised a minimum once every three years. However, with the recently active market, properties are being evaluated on a yearly basis either on-site or with aerial photography.
“We’ll analyze the sales in given areas where the market has been active enough,” said Llano County Chief Appraiser Scott Dudley. “We’re adjusting basically all properties annually.”
Property appraisal notices are sent in April or May, depending on the county appraisal district. Protest forms are included with the notice. Property owners have a 30-day period to file a protest. An official deadline will be updated on the appraisal district’s website, and on your notice.
Appraisal district websites (Burnet CAD and Llano CAD) have information about how to protest an appraisal and what materials might be needed. Some of those materials might be a detailed written account of factors that could devalue the property, photographs of defects or problems with a property, a private appraisal, or the closing statement for a recent purchase.
A hearing will be set after a protest is filed, although, in some cases, a settlement might be offered. About two weeks before a hearing, the property owner will be mailed a hearing date notice.
HOW TO LOOK IT UP
Throughout the year, though, you might want to look at how much is owed, tax rates, homestead exemptions, or your property’s valuation. The websites for central appraisal districts in Burnet and Llano counties are the first place to look for all that information.
Burnet County Property Search
Llano County Property Search
Burnet and Llano county central appraisal district websites both offer search functionality by owner, address, account number, geographic ID, and “doing business as.” From the appraisal district websites, simply click “Property Search” to begin the process.
A successful search will provide the appraised value of the property as well as property details, taxing jurisdictions, and estimated taxes.
WHAT YOU PAY
County tax assessors are elected officials who work separately from the appraisal districts.
They are tasked with collecting and distributing tax money in their county. Fiscal budgets and tax rates typically are set in August and September of each year by the county, cities, school boards, and special districts. Once set, county tax assessors receive the new tax rate information and send tax bills in October. Local taxes are due the following Jan. 31.
Many property owners pay into an escrow account as part of their mortgage to meet their annual tax responsibility. If you rely on receiving a notice to pay your bill, Llano County Tax Assessor Kris Fogelberg has some advice for you.
“If you don’t get a tax statement, it doesn’t mean your penalty will be waived if you don’t pay on time,” Fogelberg said. “We can only send out (tax bills) to addresses that we have. That’s my advice for a lot of people. They need to call before January 31 and make sure what they owe.”
It also helps to make sure the county tax appraiser has your correct address.
Delinquent taxes have a 6 percent penalty and 1 percent interest. That penalty accrues at 1 percent per month until July 1, when it increases to 12 percent. You might have the option to pay delinquent taxes with installments through the county tax assessor.
EXEMPTIONS & HOMESTEADS
Homeowners get a break on property taxes for their principal residence with a homestead exemption. School districts have a $25,000 exemption, which means your school district taxes your property at a value of $25,000 less than its appraised value. A $150,000 home, for example, would pay taxes as if it were worth $125,000. Any taxing entity can offer an optional exemption up to 20 percent of a home’s value. As most of them differ, you need to go online to find out Burnet County exemptions or Llano County exemptions that affect your property.
Homeowners have up to two years to apply for a homestead exemption. Once received, you do not need to reapply.
Exemptions for disabled residents, disabled veterans, and those 65 years or older also are available.
WHY HAVE AN APPRAISAL DISTRICT?
Central appraisal districts perform a needed service in Texas. Many, in fact, see it as a sort of public service.
“I get to deal with lot of people of all walks of life, all backgrounds,” Dudley said of the job. “It’s very interesting from that aspect.”
The Llano CAD office oversees the assessment of about 37,000 parcels in the county, which includes 966 square miles.
“We deal with people with homesteads and other exemptions and with people buying new properties, people who apply for ag or wildlife exemptions,” Dudley said. “We deal with people for various, different matters all year long.”
Regardless of the situation, appraisers and tax assessors in the Highland Lakes are ready to help.
“We welcome their questions, phone calls, and inquiries,” he said. “Anything with regards to what we do, any time of year.”
Burnet Central Appraisal District
223 S. Pierce St., Burnet, TX 78611-3136
Burnet County Tax Rates
Burnet County Tax Assessor-Collector
1701 E. Polk, Suite 96, Burnet, TX 78611
– Marble Falls Office
Courthouse Annex South
810 Steve Hawkins Parkway, Marble Falls, TX 78654
Llano County Central Appraisal District
103 E. Sandstone St., Llano, TX 78643-2039
Llano County Tax Rates
Llano County Tax Assessor-Collector
100 W. Sandstone, Llano, TX 78643
– Buchanan Dam Office
Precinct 2 & 3 Annex
8347 RR 1431, Buchanan Dam, TX 78609
– Horseshoe Bay Office
Precinct 1 Annex
101 Ferguson Road, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657