Soaked Rich

So you say your double-wide manufactured home has been socked with a higher property tax appraisal this year, meaning heftier taxes for you and more meals of Hamburger Helper, sans hamburger. (That would be "Helper.")

Oh, quit whining, you big baby. It could be worse. You could be rich.

Turns out the Dallas Central Appraisal District finally is doing a better job evaluating the area's priciest homes. In other words, someone is finally sticking it to the rich and almost-rich.

Allow Buzz to pause here a moment to wipe away the tears.

The radical under-appraisal of real estate in some of Dallas' most exclusive neighborhoods (See "The Little People Tax," July 12) has been rectified this year, with some homes seeing increases of 50 to 100 percent, records show.

Take Swiss Avenue. Last year, tax appraisals on Swiss were roughly half of what homes were selling for, thanks to vagaries in state law that make assessing the most expensive homes difficult. It takes about $700,000 to buy on Swiss, and that fact is now reflected in the district's figures. In fact, four Swiss homes now are appraised for more than $1 million.

Not even the powerful were spared. Mayor Laura Miller and council member Mitch Rasansky count as the only two city pols with more than $1 million in real estate holdings, records show. The district raised the tax value of Miller's future home site in Bluffview by 44 percent, to just more than $1 million. Her Oak Cliff house went up 28 percent, to $491,000. Rasansky, the council's most vocal anti-tax critic, saw the appraisal on his 6,300-square-foot Preston Hollow home go up by 50 percent. It's now appraised at $1.6 million.

Poor dears. Maybe they should get together for lunch to console one another. A big steaming dish of Helper is very comforting.

Goodbye: Longtime Dallas Morning News columnist Maryln Schwartz is going on "permanent medical leave" after editors there discovered multiple mistakes during an audit of 35 of her columns.

According to her doctor, Schwartz's health problems, which include chemotherapy treatment for cancer, high blood-sugar and a thyroid ailment, may have contributed to the errors. The mistakes included discussing or quoting people whose identities the editors couldn't later verify.

Um, oka-a-a-y. Buzz would like to hear the News be a little more forthcoming about those mistakes, but it would be wrong of us to suggest that the explanation smells suspiciously like Amarillo when the wind is blowing off the feedlots. So we won't.

The News' president and editor, Bob Mong, was a bit more gracious than us, and allowed Schwartz to write a farewell column about her condition. "What I was trying to balance here was her service to the company, her extreme health problems and the need to address the inaccuracies," Mong says.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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