Keller tax values rising

Posted Monday, Jun. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Property values are up in Keller for the second straight year, according to figures released last week by the Tarrant Appraisal District.

Keller’s assessed value increased from $4.1 billion to $4.2 billion, a gain of 4.2 percent. The city also saw a gain last year with an assessed value increase of 2.7 percent.

The Keller Independent School District also showed an increase in property values, rising 6.6 percent from about $11.4 billion to $12.1 billion. The Northwest school district’s figures, on the other hand, fell 4.3 percent from $4.6 billion to $4.4 billion.

Keller City Manager Steve Polasek said the city’s increase is good but the recent figures are not what the city leaders use when making budgeting decisions.

“It’s still preliminary,” Polasek said. “But we expected there would be some increase.”

Polasek credits the increase to additional construction and home values that are starting to get back up to where they were previously.

“We are cautiously optimistic, like everybody else, but trends are not easy to predict at this point.”

Unlike last year when Roanoke was down by 8.3 percent and Westlake down by 2.1 percent, both cities have gains this year.

Westlake values are up from $880 million to $906 million, a gain of 2.9 percent.

Town Manager Tom Brymer attributes the increases to new home construction.

Roanoke’s overall tax base, with the majority in Denton County, has Tarrant County values up from $78.5 million to $80.3 million, a 2.3 percent gain.

“We have been anticipating values would remain constant, or increase slightly. The positive growth and development activity we have experienced is certainly a factor,” said Roanoke City Manager Scott Campbell. “Roanoke is a highly sought after community for families to locate because of its high quality of life residential living. I think our values will continue to improve.”

In contrast, Haslet experienced a 15 percent drop in property value this year.

Haslet Mayor Bob Golden said the major portion of property value decrease is due to a loss of mineral lease values.

“But we are already starting to see a renewed activity in gas well permitting,” Golden said. “We are confident these particular values will make a comeback and probably before the end of the year when the final tax rolls are out in September.”

Golden said even if the final numbers are slightly down later in the year, he does not anticipate any service level reductions.

Keller ISD

The Keller school district showed a 6.6 percent increase in preliminary net tax values, from about $11.4 billion to $12.1 billion.

Deputy Superintendent Mark Youngs said the increase likely will be offset by a slight reduction in revenue from the state for daily operations, but "it absolutely does help on the debt side."

An increase in property values can help retire bonds sooner.

District officials likely will keep the tax rate for debt at the 50 cent maximum for the next year but may drop it by a few cents in the future because of tax growth, low interest rates and retiring debt.

Youngs said the increase is due to both rising values on existing properties and new structures, especially retail like the booming Alliance Town Center along Interstate 35W.

The 2013 boost was a little higher than district officials expected and a bit more than last year's increase. Two years ago, Keller schools experienced a slight decline in values like much of the region.

Now commercial and housing growth show the region's economy is recovering, Youngs said. District officials expect another eight to ten years before the Keller district reaches build out.

According to demographic projections, Keller is likely to gain about 5,000 to 8,000 additional students to the 33,400 currently enrolled.

With that growth, administrators expect to see a continuing trend of more economically disadvantaged students in Keller schools, Youngs said. The percentage of students who are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches has more than doubled in the last decade from just under 10 percent to more than 21 percent.

Northwest ISD

The Northwest school district’s figures — down 4.3 percent from $4.6 billion to $4.4 billion — may look worrisome on the surface.

But Jon Graswich, the district's chief financial officer, doesn't look at it that way. The expansive district spreads into Denton and Wise counties, as well. And it's total value when factoring in all three counties is up by 1.54 percent.

"We're in three counties," Graswich said. "When you look at the total picture, we're actually up at this point."

Until recent years, Northwest's tax roll was showing huge gains from year to year. The growth flattened out and even declined a small amount last year as the district's valuable property transitions from a heavy reliance on oil and gas to an increased emphasis on commercial property and homes.

"We anticipate growth resuming overall in 2013-2014 and for sure by 2014-2015," Graswich said.

Tarrant County

As a whole, property values are up 4.3 percent in Tarrant County, or about $5.4 billion, from a year ago, according the data.

About $1.9 billion of the county’s growth in taxable value came from construction. Nearly 8,000 new homes added about $1.1 billion to the net taxable value, and 613 new commercial properties added $852 million, according to a report prepared by the Tarrant Appraisal District.

“I’d call it a healthy rate” of increase, Chief Appraiser Jeff Law said. “The markets are improving in Tarrant County. We saw increases in both our residential sectors and our commercial sectors.”

The rest of the increase came from higher taxable values assessed on existing properties.

Mark Wright and staff writers Sandra Baker, Elizabeth Campbell, Robert Cadwallader, Sandra Engelland, Shirley Jinkins, and Scott Nishimura contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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