WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas - It's no secret the price for a home in the Austin area has dramatically increased. The price jump has even caused some sticker shock at the Williamson County Appraisal District.
"We have been surprised," said Deputy Chief Appraiser Chris Connelly.
2021 was a record year in Williamson County with a nearly 20% jump in appraisals from the previous year. The increase, for 2022 Williamson County appraisals, is tracking at more than 40%. The notices start going out in April and Connelly said residents should not panic
"I don't expect it to go through the roof. There will be an increase, but again we have to wait for the values ae certified in July and then the taxing entities take all the market value that we have set in the county, and they begin the process of setting their rates," said Connelly.
State lawmakers limited how much local governments can rake in. Budget amounts above set caps must go before voters to approve the larger tax hike. A homestead exemption also caps property valuation increases at 10% a year.
But over time the steady climb could be too much to bear.
"Well I feel bad about it because I'm retired and it's going to be going up 10% a year and that’s probably going to be beyond what we can afford right now," said Georgetown resident Hugh Wilson.
The new spike in valuation may even make filing a challenge not worth the effort. That only adds to the frustration.
"With all the variables involved, I don’t know if there is a solution that is that easy," said Williamson Co Resident Jennifer Van Pelt.
The tax bill increase for those who own rental property could also mean a higher bill for those living in apartments. One owner told FOX 7 he estimates a rent rate increase by more than $200 is possible.
In Travis County, the number crunching on valuations is still going on, but the collection for 2021 is wrapping up. That process has a surprise result and an offer for some help.
The payment rate for 2021 in Travis County is at almost 98%, a big achievement considering the pandemic. But about 32,000 property owners are delinquent as of Monday which concerns Travis Co Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant.
"We absolutely encourage people to come to us to talk about their issues and put them on a payment plan," said Elfant.
Elfant told FOX 7 there is also federal pandemic relief money. The grant program is currently only for tax delinquency in 2020-21. Those who apply must prove how COVID caused a financial burden.
"For some people this could be the difference between keeping their house and not keeping their house. So we think it's that important," said Elfant.
The federal grant money can also be used to pay overdue bills for medical treatment and insurance payments as well as HOA and condo fees.
Elfant went on to urge those who need serves to first go to the county website. A staffing problem has created long lines at the office.