Even as property evaluations rise, property owners’ tax bill should stay relatively stable, county officials said.

Wharton County saw its tax base increase by $662 million, or 16%, a large part of that value coming from a pair of solar farms totaling $283 million in new value.

“The increased homestead exception for your school districts will help keep bills down. I’m thinking for the average person, your evaluations went up and your rates went down. The 3.5% increase isn’t likely to hurt people too bad,” Wharton County Tax Assessor-Collector Cindy Hernandez said.

As home assessments increase, a no-new-revenue rate predicts for tax rates to decrease to compensate. It’s possible for a 3.5% increase on a no-new-revenue rate to be lower than the previous year’s tax rate depending on the increase in appraisals and the decrease in the no-new-revenue rate. However, a decreased tax rate doesn’t always correspond to a decreased tax bill.

Taxing districts, aside from water districts, are allowed to increase rates beyond the no new revenue by 3.5% annually, which is the voter approval rate and represents the most an entity can increase their rate without an election. They can also choose to adopt a no-new-revenue rate, which caps the entity’s income this year at last year’s income based on those parcels, or they can choose somewhere in between those rates.

Homeowner value increases weren’t spread evenly through the county, with East Bernard ISD residents leading county evaluations with an $18,000 increase in average value, raising from $204,440 in 2021 to $222,260 in 2022 on average. This also gives EBISD taxpayers the notability of being one of the only districts to see an increase in taxable homestead value after the increase in the homestead exception from $25,000 to $40,000 of about $3,000 per home evaluated.

Louise ISD also saw an increase of a little over $1,700 per homestead, from $146,280 in 2021 to $147,990 this year. The three other ISD’s, El Campo, Wharton and Boling, all saw decreases in taxable value of around $2,000.

The Appraisal Review Board heard more protests this year, the most in more than 10 years, increasing from 2,375 in 2021 to 2,483 in 2022, but ruled on about 80 fewer contests.

Most of the protests were either settled or withdrawn before being seen by the ARB.

The largest change was the number of protests that were presented and changed by the central appraisal district increasing by over 200 cases, from 393 in 2021 to 602 in 2022.

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