Chief Appraiser Jeff Law, who for months has faced controversy and scrutiny, will remain in his post as head of the Tarrant Appraisal District following two hours of closed-door deliberation by its board of directors.
The board voted to draft a “letter of repair” to give Law 90 days to address some of the issues brought by some taxpayers. The letter will be drafted by board member Jungus Jordan and the district’s lawyer, Matthew Tepper.
“We want to be able to get back and allow the district to do the job that they do,” said board member Tony Pompa, who made the motion, “which is value properties, provide the role to the taxing entities on time and accurately so that they can determine what they’re going to tax you.”
Board member Rich DeOtte made a motion to dismiss Law, but it failed to obtain a second.
Law also addressed some of the concerns that were brought up against TAD, including the June 30 meeting, which left people waiting outside in the heat for hours.
Law said TAD had heard a few people might be coming to the June meeting but underestimated the size of the crowd.
“I was sitting in the boardroom so I actually did not make any particular decisions about who was going to stand outside, who was going to be in the heat,” Law said. “I again regret that people wound up being outside in the heat. It’s one of those things, if you had the ability to rewind and go back and redo things, those folks should have probably been allowed in the lobby.”
The appraisal district has come under fire during the past year over the agency’s handling of a complaint filed to the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation against a local tax consultant and over the recall of the board of directors chairwoman, Kathryn Wilemon.
Most recently, state Rep. Charlie Geren filed a bill to abolish TAD, citing concerns about transparency within the appraisal district.
Since the initial grievance with tax consultant Chandler Crouch, TAD director Randy Armstrong has announced he will be retiring and the appraisal district has added oversight policies to rectify employee-filed complaints.
At Friday’s meeting, some TAD employees praised Law’s leadership.
Under Law, the district became the 35th certified jurisdiction in the Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration program while also being the ninth certified jurisdiction in Texas.
Eric Watkins, who identified himself as a TAD employee for almost 20 years, said Law is an honest and trustworthy man and asked the board to consider this while examining the chief appraiser’s employment.
“I have been continually impressed by his moral compass and dedication to work and his commitment to helping others. He has provided opportunities for growth to me and many, many others personally and professionally,” Watkins said.
But some taxpayers expressed sentiments that it’s time for a change in the appraisal district. One of them was Patrick Jacob, mayor of the town of Lakeside, who said the issues TAD has been experiencing lead back to Law.
“This seems to be an ongoing issue. Every time something happens. It’s always back up here,” Jacob said. “We are under the scrutiny of a magnifying glass, and it seems to be getting worse and worse and worse. So let’s fix the problem.”
During the same meeting, the Tarrant Appraisal board of directors also voted to rescind Kathryn Wilemon’s resignation as chairwoman of the board. The move allows the district’s taxing entities to appoint her replacement rather than the board.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @ssadek19.
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