Chief Appraiser Roland Altinger talks about the challenges of appraising property in Harris County. The sheer scope and complexity of a local economy that totals approximately one-fifth of the entire state's property value is staggering. The district's area covers 1,700 square miles, includes almost 2 million parcels of property, and is home to over 4 million people who live here. The better communication between property owners and the appraisal district, the better job HCAD is able to do. (3:23 mins.)
In good economic times and bad ones, Harris County is a significant economy all by itself. It is the largest economy in Texas and one of the largest in the United States.
Hello. I am Roland Altinger, Chief Appraiser of the Harris County Appraisal District. In 2016, Harris County's total market value of taxable property was over $500 billion, or about 1/5th of the total property value in the state of Texas. The scope and complexity of the property is unlike any county in Texas and few in the country. Your house or business is one piece in a property appraisal jigsaw puzzle that has almost 2 million pieces. It is affected by hundreds of pages of property tax laws, additional regulations, and court cases that determine what the government can tell you that your property is worth for tax purposes.
Harris County covers over 1,700 square miles with some 4.5 million residents. According to the census, the county gained 690,000 new residents between 2000 and 2010, more new residents than most counties in the United States. Within these 1,700 square miles, Harris County has some 500 government jurisdictions that sent out tax bills in 2015.
We have over 1 million homes in Harris County. The county itself is so large and diverse that there are multiple markets of homes. Harris County Appraisal District itself has created approximately 7,200 valuation neighborhoods to help us accurately track these markets.
We have thousands of apartment complexes and condominium units from sparkling new ones to much older ones that were modern 50 years ago. There are hundreds of office buildings - low rise and towering complexes; thousands of community, neighborhood, or strip shopping centers; car washes, hotels, night clubs, restaurants, medical centers, medical support offices, vacant land, vacant lots, manufacturing, refining.... the descriptions can go on for a long time.
Take a drive throughout the 1700 square miles of territory in Harris County and as you look left and right, you are looking at the job of the Harris County Appraisal District. Our job is to determine the January 1 market value of all that property and to do it according to the Texas Constitution and state laws. The purpose of our appraisal is to allocate the tax burden among the property owners on the basis of what the property is worth. Actual taxes are determined later when the elected governing bodies of each local jurisdiction set that jurisdiction's tax rate for the year.
Harris County is a big place. It is a big job. But, the more we communicate, the better job we can do. Thank you for watching.