Angela Hunt on the "Tens of Millions" Dallas is Losing

Angela Hunt

The blog's acting up this a.m., refusing to post comments to some items. So I thought it best not to let this one linger in the ether: It's a response from council member Angela Hunt, who has a few words for Friend of Unfair Park Alfredo. Yesterday, in the comments to Sam's item concerning Hunt's memo calling for a city council briefing on the Dallas County Appraisal District’s new commercial valuations, Alfredo wrote: "The city if they are so concerned about appraisals should certainly support legislation in Austin in the next session to support public disclosure of the price on all real estate sales." To which Hunt replies at length. After the jump, of course. --Robert Wilonsky

The Dallas City Council has lobbied the Texas Legislature to mandate disclosure of sales prices in real property transactions. Last session, council member Koop and others testified in Austin on how critical this issue is to Dallas and other cities across Texas. Unfortunately, there was not the political will in Austin to pass this legislation.

The purpose of the council briefing is to educate the council and mayor on the precise legal impediment at the state level resulting in undervalued commercial properties in Dallas. This inequity has resulted in a shift of the tax burden to homeowners, and that isn't fair. Importantly, we will invite our Dallas legislative delegation to the briefing so that they may hear our concerns and work with us to resolve this issue. We'll also invite representatives from DCAD to explain how their hands are tied on this issue, and to point out some of their recent reassessments.

Ideally, I'd also like to see our city staff highlight some of the apparently undervalued commercial properties in Dallas, as examples.

While the council may have a general understanding that this is a "state issue," I can assure you that we do not have a grasp of the extent of the problem -- how many tens of millions of dollars we are losing from Dallas' city coffers as a result of these undervaluations.

Why wouldn't we want to highlight this issue, and in the process educate not only the council and mayor, but also Dallas residents? How many homeowners do you know that are aware of this inequity? How many homeowners know that some commercial property owners are getting a sweet deal on their taxes because DCAD is undervaluing the property due to a loophole in state law?

We can't fix a problem unless the public cares about it, and the public won't care about it unless they know about it.

If enough homeowners (and voters) learn what's really happening and express their frustration to their elected officials, perhaps that -- coupled with the city's lobbying efforts -- will persuade our legislature to make the necessary changes.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky