AUSTIN, Texas — Isaac Grombacher is one of about 140,000 taxpayers in Travis County protesting their tax bills in 2019.
"It seems like they go up about $100 a month per year," Grombacher said.
Companies like Five Stone Tax Advisers go to bat for property owners like Grombacher.
CEO JP Krueger said that, at this point last year, his company resolved 65% of his clients' protests.
But, because of one change, that number has drastically dropped.
"At this point this year, we've resolved less than 1% of our protests," Krueger said.
The Travis Central Appraisal District, or TCAD, made that change: it got rid of the informal face-to-face protest.
It went online instead.
"Travis County has one of the highest protest rates in the state of Texas. Over 140,000 property owners protested in 2019. That's about one-third. Across the state, the protest rate is about 10%," said Krueger.
Out of the 20,000 of Five Stone's clients who are protesting, 5,000 of them are settling.
Krueger showed us how he now has to enter each one individually instead of sending one spreadsheet with all 5,000 names. It takes a lot of time.
Those who aren't settling go the formal route before an appraisal board.
"When we're working informally, we can settle 50 to 60 protests a day per consultant per representative. In the formal setting, we can do about 20 a day. There's a lot more cost and you get a lot fewer done," said Krueger.
He also said it will cost taxpayers about $2 million because the Appraisal Review Board had to hire more appraisers for the formal process.
Kreuger has also tried to get answers from TCAD several times.
"This year, the appraisal district has closed the doors, is unavailable to speak with the public – there's no transparency. We can't communicate with individuals at the appraisal district," he said.
Which doesn't seem right to taxpayers like Grombacher.
"It doesn't seem to be the most transparent way to do things," he said.
KVUE also reached out to TCAD Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler for comment and have yet to hear back.
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