, Port Arthur, Texas

July 28, 2010

By and large, County appraisal figures up

Susan Martinez
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — By and large, taxable values throughout Jefferson County are on the increase, according to Jefferson County Appraisal District reports released Wednesday.

The Port of Port Arthur reported a 10.84 percent increase, the difference of $6,219,832,101 in taxable value in 2009, versus $6,894,243,024 in 2010. The change is largely attributable to the port’s acquisition of 55 acres of Kansas City Southern property, which is currently being primed for commercial use. The port has been working to clear the land and two entities are in the process of coming online for small manufacturing businesses.

The city of Port Arthur received a 3.40 percent increase in taxable values, from $1,931,945,074 in 2009 to $1,997,637,282 in 2010. These changes could be attributable to a number of new homes being built and those now back on line after rehabilitation from Hurricane Ike. In Mid County, Groves experienced the largest increase with 4.67 percent taxable value.

Port Arthur Independent School District shows a 6.73 percent increase in gross value and a 20 percent decrease in taxable value. The decrease does not take into consideration two key exemptions, said Phyllis Geans, assistant superintendent for business and finance.

House Bill 1200 provides exemptions through Appraised Value Limitation agreements — a form of tax abatement between a school district and industry — and State House Bill 1, which provides property-tax relieve and public school accountability.

“House Bill 1200 exemptions that have gone up from $425 million last year to $2.1 billion. Those are still taxable values for collecting our Interest and Sinking Funds,” Geans said. 

Within the agreement, is a $30 million base, so anything over and above is abated. Wednesday’s figures were a result of an AVL between Motiva and the district, an appraisal district official said. The abatement only applies to budget costs and not debt.

“So yes, the M&O (Maintenance and Operation), the amount of the property taxes has increased,” Geans said. “However, all that means to the district is the state has to pay more as a result of House Bill 1.”

Though Jefferson County experienced a taxable value increase of 5.54 percent, the county currently has an estimated 26 abated accounts. Some abatements, could carry a 10- to 20-year term and typically carry only 10 percent of the tax obligations.

“Our revenues are going down even though our tax values go up,” said Jeff Brannick, assistant to Jefferson County Ron Walker.

“We just never know what portion of our taxes we will be paying back,” Brannick said.

Also coming into play on taxable value rolls are homes that have been rehabilitated after Hurricane Ike. Expansion and home values increased 3.1 percent, even though property taxes on existing homes decreased.

Property taxes are assigned to land, improvements to land, including building additions, and personal property or movable things.