City council is set to appoint former city manager Joyce Wilson to the Central Appraisal District (CAD) Board of Directors. Wilson was nominated by Oscar Leeser for the appointment. If city council (Item 1.1 in the additions to the agenda) approves the appointment, she will replace Ann Morgan Lilly on the board. Morgan Lilly resigned her position, as per the backup material included in the city council agenda.
As you know, Joyce Wilson was the city manager from September 2004 through June 2014. Wilson served as a consultant to Tommy Gonzalez from June through September 2014. Joyce Wilson is the Chief Executive Officer for Work Force Solutions Borderplex, since June 2014. The Work Force Solutions Borderplex is the city’s regional workforce development agency. It is connected to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Wilson was most recently appointed to the city council’s Ad Hoc Charter Committee. The committee recently made recommendations to city council for selecting items to make changes to the city’s charter that are expected to be voted on in November.
The CAD’s Board of Directors appoints the chief appraiser and sets the budget for the appraisal district. The CAD’s function is to set the valuation of all property in El Pas County, including real estate and personal property that is subject to property taxes. The agency comes under fire each year because appraisal values are set by the agency resulting in higher taxes for taxpayers as a result of higher valuations on their properties.
The process of setting the valuations are routinely challenged by taxpayers as arbitrary. Larger taxpaying entities, such as Western Refinery, successfully challenge their appraised value annually resulting in lower property taxes and, sometimes refunds from the taxing entities.
The board is made of members from other taxing entities that form part of the CAD. No other city elected official sits on the CAD’s board currently.
The CAD’s board of directors should not be confused with the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). The board of directors appoints the members of the Appraisal Review Board. The ARB accepts and reviews challenges to the appraisals set by the CAD on taxable property. If a resolution is not reached through the ARB, taxpayers have the option to sue the CAD.
In early 2014, several large property owners filed suit against the CAD, alleging that the ARB’s Director of Appraisal Review Board, Amee Raspopovich, used her position to illegally interfere with the CAD’s, through the ARB, duty to fairly and equally adjudicate challenges to the CAD’s appraisals. Raspopovich is a tax preparer for H&R Block. Raspopovich was accused of strong-arming the ARB members to deny taxpayers relief and support the CAD’s valuations when challenged.
On November 24, 2014, the El Paso CAD, Amee Raspopovich and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit reached an agreement to settle the lawsuit. In the settlement agreement, Amee Raspopovich agreed, “that she shall complete her current term as Chair of the Appraisal Review Board, and that she shall not, in the future, seek or accept a position on the Appraisal Review Board of El Paso County, Texas or with the El Paso Central Appraisal District.”
The next scheduled meeting of the El Paso Central Appraisal District Board of Directors is scheduled for Thursday, August 20, 2015. If Joyce Wilson’s appointment is passed by city council today, that would be her first opportunity to sit on the board.