EL PASO, Texas - The Central Appraisal District recently reached a settlement with El Paso's biggest taxpayer, which left the City and some other taxing entities facing multi-million dollar shortfalls in their budgets.
Western Refining was appraised in 2011 at $280 million and jumped to $780 million or about a 300 percent increase last year. But a settlement at $320 million has left some taxing entities more than just a little short on their budgets.
"Recently we've been advised by the Central Appraisal District that's there has been a settlement with Western Refining," City Chief Financial Officer Carmen Arrieta-Candaleria told City Council during this week's meeting, setting off a storm of criticism of the CAD.
"It's almost like they make this stuff up," City Rep. Susie Byrd said.
"This to me seems to be utterly ridiculous," City Manager Joyce Wilson said. "One, you're off this much. Two, you say you're sure you're going to fight it and then you settle? And for a huge, huge impact."
The more than 150-percent change is appraisal value is expected to cost the City about $3 million toward its annual budget.
"That $3 million impact with only a quarter of the year left, you can triple that," Mayor John Cook told Council.
The City of El Paso isn't the only taxing entity being hit hard. The difference in estimated tax, as a result of the settlement, will be about $1.7 million less for the County, a whopping $5.3 million for the El Paso Independent School District, about a half million less for El Paso Community College and more than $800,000 less for University Medical Center.
"The board of directors voted to agree to a settlement," said Dinah Kilgore, Chief Appraiser for the El Paso Central Appraisal District. "I've been asked before by my board of directors, 'Well you know this is going to happen can't you just put that value on there?' We can't. We cannot. We have to look at it every year as to what the market is out there."
Kilgore told ABC-7 she warned all of the taxing entities not to count on that money.
"I did tell them earlier, I did," Kilgore said. "I met with all the entities that were involved in July and informed them, this is what we're having to certify. Be aware."
Western Refining spokesman Gary Hanson told ABC-7 that the appraisal ended up about where the company thought it would and it will remain the same, at $320 million, for this year as well. He added that his company communicated with all of the taxing entities not to count on that original appraisal.
City Rep. Cortney Niland has volunteered to fill the open spot on the CAD board of directors and vowed to do what she can to prevent something like this from ever happening again.