Tarrant Appraisal District’s board of directors rescinded its acceptance of board chair Kathryn Wilemon’s resignation, after a weeks-long conflict between the board and local taxing entities over who would pick her replacement. 

“Personally I wanted to allow Kathryn to resign rather than be recalled,” board member Tony Pompa, who made the motion to rescind the resignation, said at the Friday, March 17 meeting. “For the years of service that she’s had and in the public, she didn’t deserve that. She didn’t do anything wrong.” 

Pompa ultimately decided to rescind her resignation because of letters sent to the appraisal board by upset taxing entities, he said. The move means that Tarrant County taxing authorities, rather than the appraisal board itself, will choose Wilemon’s replacement on the board. 

The appraisal board initially accepted Wilemon’s resignation March 3, after the city of Keller initiated a recall process against her in February. The two warring actions — resignation and recall — cast doubt on how to move forward with filling Wilemon’s spot. 

Board member Jungus Jordan believed, regardless of whether the board accepted Wilemon’s resignation or not, that the taxing authorities had the right to pick her replacement, he said. 

“Under no circumstance do I believe that the board should replace a vacancy, that should always be done by the taxing unit,” Jordan said. 

Both the city of Keller and Tarrant County District Attorney Phil Sorrells sent letters to chief appraiser Jeff Law warning of potential legal consequences if the board tried to fill Wilemon’s spot, rather than taxing authorities.

The reasons behind Wilemon’s recall

Kathryn Wilemon came under scrutiny from local taxing authorities after a series of missteps and controversies during her time as board chair. These included locking residents out of a board meeting; an appraisal employee sending complaints against a local tax consultant to the state without board approval; and several conflict of interest reports.

“When Keller decided to recall the chairman, this board’s action wasn’t to respect that decision,” Tarrant County resident Jeremy Parrish said during public comment at the meeting. “Instead, it was to rush behind closed doors and talk to legal counsel about ‘How can we control this situation? How can we be the people who get to appoint the chairperson and not the taxing entities that are recalling them?’ That’s the most disrespectful thing that I’ve heard in a very long time.” 

Tarrant County lawmakers filed two bills taking aim at the Tarrant Appraisal District in March. 

The first, filed March 8 by Rep. Nate Schatzline, R-Fort Worth, would change the rules around appraisal board membership, and make members who resigned or were recalled ineligible to serve on a board in the future. Under Schatzline’s bill, Wilemon would not be able to sit on the Tarrant Appraisal board in the future.

The second, filed March 10 (the last day for lawmakers to file bills) by Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, would abolish TAD and place county appraisals under the control of the state comptroller’s office.

“We have a problem when we have a state legislator trying to take power from our county because of the mismanagement of this board,” Lucia Seri, an Arlington resident who spoke at the board meeting, said. 

It’s unclear whether Geren will withdraw his bill after the board’s action on Friday.

“’I’m guessing the taxing entities are paying attention (to the meeting),” Pompa said. “So communicate with us. I communicate with the people that appointed me. If you have an issue, talk to us, let us know. Let us explain to you why we’re doing the things that we’re doing.” 

Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at emily.wolf@fortworthreport.org or via TwitterAt the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Emily WolfGovernment Accountability Reporter

Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Round Rock, Texas, she spent several years at the University of Missouri-Columbia majoring in investigative...