Rising property values in the heart of Precinct 2 Commissioners’ Yard runoff
El Paso County Commissioner David Stout, who is seeking re-election to represent Precinct 2, refutes his opponent’s implication that his seat on the El Paso Central Assessment District Board of Directors has an impact on the lower value of his property.
Stout, 42, will face Judy Gutierrez in the upcoming Democratic primary election on May 24. The retired El Paso City employee forced Stout to a runoff in the March primary, winning 39.5% of the vote to 43% — a difference of 387 votes.
There is no Republican candidate in this race.
Gutierrez, 58, declined an interview request for this article, while Stout called his recent mailers nothing but lies.
“It’s unfortunate that her whole campaign is based on misinformation and trying to trick (voters) into voting for her by telling them things that aren’t true,” Stout said.
Gutierrez’s post takes aim at the fact that the property value of Stout’s home in Central El Paso declined from 2020 to 2021 and remained the same in 2022, while the total assessed value of residential properties across the county has increased by 17% compared to last year.
This is the second year in a row that El Paso real estate valuations have soared. Last year, thousands of homeowners saw their property tax bills rise after local tax entities set their annual property tax rates.
“The adversary is watching out for himself,” Gutierrez’s courier says. “Commissioner Stout sits on the organization that determines property values. He serves on the El Paso Assessment District Board of Directors and has chosen not to disclose this in his campaign materials.
The El Paso Central Assessment District Board of Directors has nine members, each representing a tax entity. Stout was reappointed for a one-year term on the CSA Board by the Court of Commissioners in January this year.
“There is absolutely no influence any CAD board member can have on how appraisals are made or how values are set with respect to properties,” Stout said.
According to the Assessment District website, “The local property tax system follows the principle of checks and balances.” The CDA Board hires the Chief Appraiser, establishes the annual budget and appoints the members of the Appraisal Review Committee.
“Administrators have no authority to set values or valuation methods,” the website states. “The Chief Assessor exercises the statutory functions of the assessment district, hires staff, conducts assessments, and manages the assessment office.”
It would be illegal for board members to interfere or seek lower property assessments for their homes, DAC executive director and chief assessor Dinah Kilgore said in a presentation to the commissioners court May 3.
Kilgore said if a council member approached her to reduce the value of a property, she would notify that person and then report them to the council if necessary.
“It hasn’t been done for 40 years and it’s certainly not done under my watch and it won’t be done,” Kilgore said.
The estimated value of Stout’s property was $179,400 in 2020. It fell to $159,400 in 2021 and remained the same this year.
“The reason you’re seeing the decrease is because I protested (the value of my property),” Stout said. “I was looking to refinance my mortgage, and I had a professional market appraisal done and it showed that the value of my property was significantly lower than what the CAD had placed.”
Stout said he did what any other landlord is allowed to do because state law allows landlords to protest their assessments if they feel they are too high.
According to CAD property records and his campaign finance reports, Gutierrez does not own any residential property in the county. She rents an apartment in the Austin High School neighborhood.
Stout said this is the second time Gutierrez has relied on lies in his campaign. Gutierrez claimed that Stout was working to defund the police.
Stout says his voting record shows he has supported various fundraising initiatives for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department since joining the commissioner’s court in 2015.
“I think voters will show that they won’t give in to this type of misinformation that they get that they’re smarter than that,” Stout said.
Due to the sharp rise in property assessments, local governments, like the county, will be required to cut their property tax rates to comply with a new state law that caps the annual increase in property tax revenue. property tax they can levy at 3.5%, unless they seek voter approval.
Last year, the El Paso County Court of Commissioners lowered its tax rate to 3.6%, the “no-new-income” rate that brought the county the same property tax revenue as the Previous exercice.
Gutierrez’s shipper says she “will oppose an increase in the tax rate caused by skyrocketing real estate valuations” and notes that she will propose a higher homestead exemption for the elderly and Veterans.
The amount of a tax increase or decrease is based on a combination of tax rates and property assessments.
Stout said he will continue to work with the commissioners to find ways to minimize the impact of rising property assessments on taxpayers over the next budget cycle.
“I feel like it’s incumbent on us as a tax entity to look at our budget and work to balance it in a way that will also allow us to provide further relief and further reductions in the rate. tax,” Stout said.
He said one way the county could do that is to hire more grant writers. If the county had more ability to write and apply for grants to fund county projects that could help in the budgeting process, he said.
Early voting for the May 24 primary runoff begins May 16 and ends May 20.