Weatherford Democrat

Top News

June 27, 2012

Appeals court: Tax case can be heard in district court

PARKER COUNTY — A group of more than a dozen homeowners suing the Parker County Appraisal District and the cities of Aledo and Willow Park for retroactively billing them for five years of city taxes won a victory in appeals court last week, allowing their case to continue in district court.

Reversing an order by 43rd District Judge Trey Loftin nearly a year ago, a three-judge panel for the Texas Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth found that the homeowners’ case could be heard in Parker County district court.

The case has been in the court system since the homeowners filed a counterclaim against the government entities in October 2010. The City of Willow Park had filed a suit in March 2010 attempting to collect property taxes from homeowners Todd Brennan and Valerie Smith that the city claimed were delinquent.

The owners of 13 properties, 10 located in Aledo and three in Willow Park, joined the lawsuit against the City of Willow Park, the City of Aledo, the Parker County Appraisal District, the appraisal review board and Chief Appraiser Larry Hammonds.

In 2008, the owners of the properties, all in Willow Park Village, Stone Bluff of Aledo and Fairview Addition, received bills for city taxes for 2003 to 2007.

In October 2008, the appraisal district sent bills to the property owners stating that the properties had been “omitted” from the appraisal rolls for the past five years and stating that the total for the previous years was due upon receipt.

About $300,000 in back taxes was reportedly requested from about 300 property owners in the three subdivisions and most of those bills have been paid, the Democrat was told last year.

However, the taxpayers allege the city taxes for those properties were assessed in violation of the state tax code, though attorneys for the cities and appraisal district have said the law was followed.

The cities were not valid taxing units during those years because they didn’t notify the appraisal district that their boundaries had expanded to include the three subdivisions and the cities failed to challenge the district’s records each year, the homeowners argue.

They are also alleging Hammonds improperly sent the bills two months before the appraisal review board added the records to the appraisal roll for the district.

Attorney Joshua Carden, representing the taxpayers, told the Democrat last year that other property owners in the same subdivision, owners who had since sold their property, were not being asked to pay back taxes for those years.

Carden called that a violation of equal protection laws.

The homeowners are requesting the assessment be voided and any paid back taxes be refunded.

In a July 2011 order, Loftin found that the district court had no authority to hear the case.

A request to certify the case as a class action lawsuit was not decided last year after the district court ruling.

However, the appeals court’s ruling Friday found that the district court did have jurisdiction over the issue, sent the case back to district court to proceed and ordered the appraisal district and cities pay the cost of the appeal.

Calls to attorneys Barbara Williams, representing the cities, and Judith Hargrove, representing the appraisal district, were not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • students.jpg Is opting out an option?

    One local parent has taken it upon herself to make her voice heard. Michelle Osterkamp, who has two children attending Mary Martin Elementary, began to research the opt-out method after talking with some of her teacher friends.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Biz Index 1.jpg Let's get physical

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • EXTENSION NEWS: Take a mind vacation

    For many of us, every day has some sort of stress associated with it. Whether it is something at home or at work, it seems like there are a million things stressing us out and making us feel overwhelmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • VETERANS’ CORNER: Veterans’ needs the target of recent discussions

    Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and officials from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States completed a series of meetings April 8-11 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., discussing the latest research, best practices and various areas of collaboration to address the growing needs of veterans.

    April 20, 2014

  • MILLSAP MATTERS: Reunion time approaches

    MILLSAP – For many people this is the time of year that reunions are held. In that light, Millsap alumni will be enjoying their annual school reunion on Saturday, April 26.

    April 20, 2014

  • larry jones cropped:color NOW HEAR THIS: The fox and the hound, plus Max

    Almost without exception, most farms are protected to some degree by guard animals. Dogs and cats are most commonly used to defend against intruders and nuisance pests around the farmstead. In recent years with the proliferation of coyotes, many folks are using guard donkeys or llamas to protect their livestock.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Laws can’t be ignored

    Senator Harry Reid said, “We just can’t let people ignore the law.”

    April 20, 2014

  • Taste of Parker County logo.jpg Canyon West to host Taste of Parker County

    Prepare your taste buds, because the sixth annual Taste of Parker County is just a few short weeks away, and this year’s event has moved to a larger location to accommodate even more great eats and treats.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0420 one USAF riders IMG_7940.jpg Riding high

    Members of the United States Air Force Cycling Team, preparing to participate in the 12th annual Ride for Heroes in Aledo Saturday, met Friday with their supporters — members of the Bush Legacy Republican Women of Weatherford — for a pre-ride photo shoot at the historic courthouse followed by pre-ride carbo loading at Milano’s in Willow Park.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Grand jury indictments for April returned

    A Parker County grand jury on Thursday indicted a man accused of breaking into his neighbor’s home and threatening him with a BB gun before engaging in a brief standoff with deputies.

    April 19, 2014

Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
Poll

The City of Weatherford is considering an ordinance that would ban smoking inside restaurants and enclosed areas where food is prepared, sold or consumed. Do you agree with this proposal?

Yes
No
Undecided
Don't care
     View Results