Senator Tommy Williams
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0104

May 17, 2005
Contact: Lauren Hutton (512) 463-0104

State Sen. Tommy Williams Passes Measure to Make Contesting an Appraisal Increase More Affordable

AUSTIN -- Private property owners who want to contest increasing appraisals would be able to avoid costly litigation under Senate Bill 1351 by State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands. The measure passed by the Texas Senate Monday, May 16, offers arbitration as an alternative to costly and time consuming litigation.

"Instead of paying a lawyer and court fees to contest an increase in appraised property value, homeowners and small businesses will have an additional option with SB 1351," Williams said.

Currently, property owners who want to dispute the appraisal can contest the value with the local Appraisal Review Board. If the owner remains unsatisfied with the board's decision, their only previous option has been to file a lawsuit, costing between $3,000 and $5,000 just to reach a settlement.

SB 1351 provides property owners with the option to contest the appraised value through binding arbitration. Property owners could choose to pay a $500 filing fee and begin the arbitration proceedings. The fee would cover arbitration costs, and the appraisal district would be responsible for refunding the fee if the arbitrator finds in favor of the property owner.

SB 1351 is now headed to the House of Representatives along with SB 18: The Property Tax Accountability Act. SB 18 would require Texas cities and counties to give clear notice and hold two public hearings if they propose increasing taxes from the previous year.

"Taxpayers can no longer afford to allow local governments to hide behind rising property tax appraisals," Williams said. "It's time for all proposed tax rate increases to be clearly identified and disclosed to Texas tax payers."

First elected in 1996 to the Texas House of Representatives, Tommy Williams was later elected to the Senate in 2002 and re-elected in 2004. He represents Senate District 4, covering all or portions of Montgomery, Harris, Liberty, Chambers, Jefferson and Orange counties. Williams serves as Vice Chairman of the State Affairs Committee and as a member of the Senate Criminal Justice, Education and Finance committees.