GALVESTON

This spring, many island homeowners saw the values of their homes rise.

Because of rising values, Frank Martinez worries he might have to sell the house his family owns near 15th and Church streets, he said.

The house’s value increased from about $130,000 to $144,000, and now he’s worried the taxes might be too much for him to pay, he said.

“I’m going to go fight the county,” Martinez said.

His brother lives in the house right now, but the family will have to decide whether to keep it, Martinez said.

The average market value for residents living in Galveston Independent School District rose 10 percent this year, a figure that’s reflecting higher demand of the limited island housing.

“People are buying homes,” said Marcel Pierel, deputy chief appraiser with the Galveston County Central Appraisal District.

The appraisal district assesses property values, but property tax rates are set by local municipalities, school districts or other taxing entities.

More than 70 percent, 79,446, of the 112,011 notices the appraisal district sent out in the county told people their home value increased by more than $1,000, Pierel said.

The district doesn’t break out that data by city, he said.

Home sales prices in Galveston have been up about 10.5 percent in the past 12 months, said Robert Zahn, president of the Galveston Association of Realtors.

“I think the market has improved,” Zahn said.

But people should still protest their property values if they want to, Zahn said. The appraisal is required to determine market value of property to assess values, he said.

“I think they are looking at a very positive market, which is not always reflective of the properties they are selling,” Zahn said.

Last year, the district received 27,071 protests, Pierel said.

Vasilis Papavasiliou already filed protests for the handful of properties he owns on the island, he said.

Aside from his own home, he rents out a few properties to tenants and is in the process of fixing a few up, he said.

One home on the East End went up $35,000 in value, he said.

“I am concerned about it,” Papavasiliou said. “It is very hard. The value of my property goes up and up.”

He doesn’t want to raise rent on his tenants, but if he has to pay more in taxes, it’s difficult to avoid raising rents, he said.

In Texas, property values drive almost everything from school funding to municipal budgets.

And tax rates can also increase because of bond elections or new construction, such as when the tax rate went from 0.526 in 2017 to 0.561 in 2018, city spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; keri.heath@galvnews.com or on Twitter @HeathKeri.

(11) comments

Ron Shelby

“...or new construction..” ?? Better to say, “Increased demand for services due to population growth..”, but new construction doesn’t drive up tax rates.

Ray Taft

According to this story, more than 70 percent of the appraisal district notices increased property values by more than $1,000. That’s like Harvey all over again.

Like Harvey we are being flooded, but with tax bills that will once again steal away our money. Politicians’ unelected friends in the appraisal district are flooding homeowners with tax increases.

What a racket city, state and county governments have with this setup. We elect people to office and they get others to do their dirty work, while pretending they can’t change anything.

Sounds like Washington, until Trump came along and proved things could be changed. Maybe someone will arise within Texas to shake up the huge herd of lying scoundrels?

David Smith

What a joke.. from 130k to 144 k.
. Did you say a thank you prayer?
This senior citizen is facing a 105 THOUSAND DOLLAR increase

Erin Brucia

Ours went up more than $100k, as well. It’s absurd.

Mary Branum

If Homsteaded and have old age exemption; increase oof tax amount is small. Ours is $4 from prior year.

Miceal O'Laochdha

I am both homesteaded and old as dirt. So I guess that, together with protesting, have held me to a mere 130% increase in 5 years. What great luck! I do, by the way, count all of the assorted taxing entities, not just the ones that are supposed to freeze upon the arrival of old age.

Mary Branum

Valuation and taxable valuation are two different things. Homestead is capped at 10% taxable annually.
Non- homesteader properties pay taxes on full valuation.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Our modest house has had the appraisals increased by over 130% in 5 years and that is with our best efforts at protesting them each of the last 4 years. Taxation without representation and without accountability of elected officials. My favorite year was the one where 3 of the "comparable" properties they used had been 100% rebuilt, elevated, and even had elevators installed with FEMA money, including a new "built date" of 2016. Considering how much money we are all paying to Galveston ISD, I presume we would be graduating 100% Rhodes Scholars, were it not for the Robin Hood Law?

Steve Fouga

So I guess the big increase in tourism hasn't helped all that much after all?... 🤔🤔🤔

David Hardee

Those profiting by (and creating) all the value increases are the home sellers and the real-estate agents, title companies, lawyers. There is also a large contingency of persons in the business of spinning property. It is time these profiteers should share in the tax burden. Just add another line in the closing statement for PROPERTY TAX . They should share the tax burdens they profit by.

Ron Binkley

I have you all beat! My house went from $261,000 to $480,000. That's a $219,000 increase. I've had it on the market for sale at $344,000 and no takers. Is something wrong with this picture?

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