The Hidalgo County Appraisal District was invited to provide information on the appraisal process to Commissioners Court and interested residents after repeated comments by a member of the Objective Watchers of the Legal System, or OWLS, that the county has a say in how homes are appraised by appointing members to the board.

Chief Appraiser Rolando Garza reminded citizens that the Hidalgo County Appraisal District is its own entity created by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, and is not a part of Hidalgo County government, nor does the Appraisal District receive instructions from the board on either lowering or raising appraisals.

“The Board of Directors cannot tell me, the chief appraiser, to increase or decrease property values,” said Garza.

County Judge Ramon Garcia asked Garza to explain how the board is selected, to which Garza responded that there are 50 nominating entities with 5,000 votes distributed among them, depending on the size of the entity. The entities have until December 15 to vote on the board and the chief appraiser declares the winners before the end of the year.

"The county, school districts, cities or any entity has nothing to do with how property values are set," Garza said, adding that no entity has ever requested an increase in property values in order to help balance a budget. "That does not happen."

Residents with questions about their property taxes are invited to a free presentation featuring the county's Tax Assessor's Office and the Hidalgo County Appraisal District in partnership with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson on Thursday, Dec. 14 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Edinburg City Hall council chambers. For more information, contact Anissa de la Garza at (956) 289-7954.

Garza reported that appraisal notices will be mailed to property owners by April 15. The deadline for protests will be May 15. Homeowners who have concerns about an appraisal value of their home should contact the Hidalgo County Appraisal District directly by phone at (956) 381-8466 or can visit its website at www.hidalgoad.org