Appendix A. Selection of Directors
The quality of the property tax system depends on the appraisal district board of directors. Individuals serving on the board of directors bring to the board knowledge, judgment and expertise in establishing policies and procedures for the district's organization and operation.
Directors are nominated and selected by the governing bodies of voting taxing units in the appraisal district. Voting taxing units for all appraisal districts are the county, cities and towns and school districts participating in the district. Conservation and reclamation districts as a group may be voting taxing units under certain circumstances. Other special districts, such as hospital districts, rural fire prevention districts and junior college districts do not vote to select directors.
The Tax Code provides that the county TAC will serve on the appraisal district board of directors. The county TAC automatically will serve as a nonvoting district director, if the county TAC is not appointed to the board of directors under the regular process. If a taxing unit, such as the county commissioner's court, appoints the county TAC to the appraisal district board, then the county TAC serves as a voting member. The county TAC does not have to meet the residency requirements for serving as a nonvoting director.
The county TAC is ineligible to serve as a nonvoting or voting director if the county TAC also serves as the CAD's chief appraiser. The county TAC is ineligible to serve as a nonvoting director if the county has contracted for county tax assessment and collection with another taxing unit or with the CAD.
Appraisal district boards may vary in size from five to thirteen members. Most appraisal district boards have five members. Enlarging the board beyond five members requires action by the previous board of directors or three-fourths of the voting units. Tax Code Section 6.031 provides the method for increasing the board's size.
Taxing units select directors in the fall of each odd-numbered year. The chief appraiser announces the new directors before December 1. The selection method may be changed in the same manner as changes in the number of directors.
Tax Code Section 6.03 establishes the selection process for appraisal district directors. This process is not an "election" governed by the Texas Election Code, but an independent procedure unique to the property tax system. This section describes the following features of the selection process:
- qualifications for serving as an appraisal district director;
- voting process;
- sample calculation of the number of votes a taxing unit may cast in selecting directors;
- sample worksheet for calculating the votes;
- list of each voting taxing unit's responsibilities; and
- selection of a candidate of conservation and reclamation districts.
The Selection Process Step-by-Step
A board of five directors governs each county appraisal district, plus the county TAC as a nonvoting director (if not regularly appointed). The county, cities and towns and school districts participating in the district nominate and select directors. Incorporated villages are considered part of "cities and towns" and also vote. Conservation and reclamation districts (municipal utility districts, water districts, etc.) are entitled to vote under certain circumstances.
Other taxing units-junior colleges, hospital districts and other special districts participating in the appraisal district may not vote for directors.
The Property Tax Code permits appraisal districts to change the procedure for appointing directors. This part of the pamphlet discusses the normal process described in the code. A later section discusses how to change the appointment process.
Chief Appraiser's Duties
The chief appraiser calculates the number of votes for each taxing unit, receives nominations for directors, prepares the ballot, counts the votes and announces the winners.
Throughout the selection process, the Property Tax Code specifies dates for action by the chief appraiser and the voting units. These dates are directory and not mandatory — that is, minor delays in the nominations or voting process may be ignored. A nomination made a day or two after the statutory deadline is still a valid nomination unless the chief appraiser has already prepared and distributed the ballot. Similarly, a taxing unit delivering a vote to the chief appraiser after the deadline for submission is not void unless the chief appraiser has announced the winners. Under the law, officials must be in substantial compliance with the process, according to Texas Attorney General Opinion No. JM-166 (1984).
The following steps outline the chief appraiser's duties.
Step 1 - Obtain prior year tax levies.
The number of votes allocated to a voting unit is based on the ratio of its tax levy in the preceding year to the total tax levy of all voting units. The chief appraiser uses the most recent official tabulation of each voting unit's prior year levy. This is the amount levied, not the amount collected, by the voting unit.
If a multi-county unit has chosen only one appraisal district, that appraisal district uses all of the tax levy in calculating the unit's votes. If a taxing unit participates in several appraisal districts, the chief appraiser uses only the tax levied in that appraisal district.
The chief appraiser also should find out if any voting unit plans to change appraisal districts.
The county tax levy includes taxes for the general fund, farm-to-market roads or flood control and special road and bridge funds.
Further, the chief appraiser does not include payments received in lieu of taxes in the tax levy of a voting unit, since by definition such payments do not constitute tax levies.
Step 2 - Calculate votes for each voting unit.
Before October 1, the chief appraiser must calculate the number of votes for each voting unit. To determine the votes, the chief appraiser must:
The formula looks like this:
- Divide the amount of the preceding year's property taxes imposed by each unit by the total amount of preceding year's property taxes imposed by all voting units.
- Multiply the quotient in No. 1 by 1,000 and round to the nearest whole number.
- Multiply the whole number in No. 2 by the number of seats on the appraisal district board that will be filled.UA sample calculation appears below.
V = T x 1,000 x D
V = the number of votes for a given voting unit.
U = the amount of preceding year's property taxes imposed by the given voting unit.
T = the total amount of preceding year's property taxes imposed by all voting units within the appraisal district.
D = the number of directors that will be selected this year (ordinarily five, unless the number of directors has increased).
Sample Calculation of Votes to Select Five Directors
Unit Tax Levy Percentage Votes County A $1,500,000 20.0 1,000 City B 500,000 6.7 335 Town C 200,000 2.7 135 ISD AA 4,000,000 53.3 2,665 ISD BB 1,000,000 13.3 665 ISD CC 300,000 4.0 200
Step 3 - Notify each voting unit.
Before October 1, the chief appraiser must notify each voting taxing unit of the number of votes it may cast. The chief appraiser will send a notice of the votes to the following individuals:
- for the county, to the county judge and each county commissioner;
- for a city or town, to the mayor and to the city manager, city secretary or city clerk (as applicable); and
- for a school district, to the school board president.
Step 4 - Receive director nominations.
Each voting unit may nominate one candidate for each position to be filled. Thus, the unit may nominate from one to five candidates, provided the board of directors consists of five members. The unit may nominate more candidates if the size of the board has been increased.
The presiding officer of the unit submits the names of the nominees by written resolution to the chief appraiser before October 15. The presiding officer should include the addresses of the nominees so that the chief appraiser can notify the winners.
The chief appraiser has neither the authority nor the duty of investigating or judging the qualifications of the nominees.
Step 5 - Prepare the ballot.
Before October 30, the chief appraiser must prepare a ballot listing the nominees alphabetically by each candidate's last name. The chief appraiser must deliver a copy of this ballot to the presiding officer of the governing body of each voting unit.
Step 6 - Cast the votes.
Each voting unit must cast its vote by written resolution and submit it to the chief appraiser before November 15. The unit may cast all its votes for one candidate or may distribute the votes among any number of candidates.
Some voting units may have enough votes to select several directors to the board. To share representation on the board, several units may wish to vote for the same candidate.
A voting unit must cast its votes for a person nominated and named on the ballot. There is no provision for write-in candidates. The chief appraiser may not count votes cast for someone not listed on the official ballot.
Step 7 - Announce the winners.
The chief appraiser must count the votes and declare the candidates who received the largest vote totals before December 1. The chief appraiser notifies all taxing units (voting and non-voting) and all the candidates (winners and losers) of the outcome.
If a tie occurs, the chief appraiser must resolve it through any method of chance. Methods of chance include such actions as flipping a coin, drawing straws, drawing a black bean, drawing names from a hat and so forth.
Changing the Selection Process
Section 6.031, Property Tax Code, allows appraisal districts to change the number of directors or the method of selection, or both, subject to veto by any voting unit.
A second option is called the "three-quarters rule" because at least three-quarters of the voting units must decide to change the process.
First Option - Unanimous Consent
The appraisal district board may increase its number of directors to a maximum of 13, change the selection procedure or both. To do so, the directors must pass a resolution stating the change and send it to all taxing units in the appraisal district before August 15 of a year in which directors are selected.
Any voting unit—county, school district, city or town—may veto the change by adopting a resolution of opposition and filing it with the board of directors before September 1.
Upon receipt of a veto resolution, the board of directors must notify all taxing units in writing before September 15. This deadline allows sufficient time for taxing units to invoke the second option—the three-quarters rule.
Second Option - Three-quarters Rule
A voting unit that holds a majority of the votes in the normal selection process may not have its voting strength reduced to less than a majority unless its adopts a resolution supporting the change.
For example, a school district with 85 percent of all calculated votes must agree to any proposed change that decreases its voting percentage to less than 50 percent of all votes. If the school does not agree, the new method is void, even if approved by three-quarters of the remaining units.
No unit's voting strength may be reduced to less than one half of the number of votes it holds in the normal selection process without its consent, unless the unit's appraisal district budget allocation is reduced in the same proportion as its voting strength.
For example, a city has 40 percent of all calculated votes and does not support the resolution to change the selection process. The new method can reduce that city's voting strength to 20 percent without any budget adjustment. However, if the new method reduces the strength to less than 20 percent, then the appraisal district reduces the city's budget allocation by the same proportion.
The procedure may not be used to expand the types of units that vote.
Steps for Changing the Selection Process
Before October 1 in a year of selecting directors, at least three-quarters of the voting units must adopt and file their resolutions with the chief appraiser for changing the selection process.
Before October 5, the chief appraiser determines whether a sufficient number of voting units have adopted the resolution to change the selection process. If this is the case, the chief appraiser must notify taxing units of the change before October 10. Once adopted, any replacement procedure remains in effect for subsequent elections until:
- the resolution changes in accordance with the requirements and provisions of Section 6.031 (the statute for changing the process); or
- a majority of the voting units rescind the resolution that approved the change.
SUMMARY - Tasks for Voting Units in the Selection Process
The governing bodies of the voting units have certain responsibilities in selecting directors. The governing body of each voting unit must do the following:
- File a resolution with the chief appraiser before October 1 if the unit wishes to change the selection process.
- File a resolution of opposition with the board of directors before September 1 if the unit objects to a change in the selection process that the board has made.
- Nominate one candidate for each position on the board of directors. Submit the names and addresses of the nominees to the chief appraiser before October 15.
- Cast votes for any of the candidates on the ballot. Send the resolution to the chief appraiser before November 15.
- Nominate a person to fill a vacancy on the board of directors within 10 days after notice of the vacancy. Send the name of the nominee to the chief appraiser.
Participation by Conservation and Reclamation Districts
Conservation and reclamation districts may participate in this process if a proper request for participating in the director's selection process has been filed for the current year. These districts may also participate if they were entitled to vote in the last director selection that took place in the appraisal district.
Selection of Conservation and Reclamation District Nominee
Conservation and reclamation districts may become voting taxing units. The Property Tax Code defines a conservation and reclamation district as a district created under Article III, Section 52, or Article XVI, Section 59, of the Texas Constitution, or under a statue enacted one of these provisions. The most common of these districts are water districts, municipal utility districts and road districts.
Conservation and reclamation districts are not automatically entitled to vote for appraisal district directors. To become voting taxing units, at least one conservation and reclamation district in the appraisal district must make a request to nominate and vote on the board of directors. The request must be in writing and delivered to the chief appraiser on or before June 1 of each odd-numbered year. If the chief appraiser receives a request from a conservation and reclamation district, he or she will begin the process of selecting a nominee from these districts. This process is different from the process of selecting nominees of other voting taxing units.
Step 1 - Certify a list of eligible districts.
After receiving a request, the chief appraiser must certify a list of all eligible conservation and reclamation districts that are imposing taxes and that participate in the appraisal district. The chief appraiser must certify the list by June 15 of the year the request is made. To determine whether a district is authorized under the code's definition, chief appraisers should ask each district involved for a citation to the statute or constitutional provision authorizing the district. If not convinced of the district's right to participate in the process, the chief appraiser should consult the appraisal district's attorney.
Step 2 - Calculate the votes and notify the districts.
If the proper request has been made, the chief appraiser must calculate the number of votes to which each eligible conservation and reclamation district is entitled and deliver written notice of each district's voting entitlement and right to nominate a director to the presiding officer of each district.
The chief appraiser must deliver this notice on or before June 30 of each odd-numbered year. The number of votes to which each eligible conservation and reclamation district is entitled is calculated in the same manner as other voting taxing units. This process is discussed above.
Step 3 - Receive candidate nominations.
The governing body of each conservation and reclamation district entitled to vote may nominate by resolution a candidate for the board of directors. The district's presiding officer must submit the district's nominee's name to the chief appraiser on or before July 14 of each odd-numbered year.
Step 4 - Prepare a ballot.
On or before July 31, the chief appraiser prepares a nominating ballot. The ballot must list all the nominees of each conservation and reclamation district alphabetically by surname. The chief appraiser must prepare and deliver a copy of the nominating ballot to the presiding officer of each district.
Step 5 - Cast the votes.
On or before August 14, each district's board of directors must choose its nominee by resolution and submit the resolution to the chief appraiser.
Step 6 - Count the votes.
The chief appraiser must count the votes and determine the conservation and reclamation district's nominee. The person with the most votes wins the nomination, but only if he or she receives at least 10 percent of the votes that could have been cast by the districts. Tie votes are resolved by any method of chance.
An alternate procedure is followed if no person receives at least 10 percent of the conservation and reclamation district's votes. In this case, the chief appraiser must notify the presiding officer of the board of each district of the failure to select a nominee on or before August 31. Each district may then submit a nominee following the original procedure discussed above. Each district must submit a nominee to the chief appraiser on or before September 15. The chief appraiser submits a second nominating ballot to the districts on or before October 1. Districts must vote as discussed above on or before October 14. This time around, the nominee with the most votes wins a place on the board of director's ballot. There is no requirement that one person achieve at least 10 percent of the votes. Again, tie votes are resolved by any method of chance.
Step 7 - Place the conservation and reclamation district's nominee on the ballot.
The chief appraiser must place the conservation and reclamation district's nominee on the appraisal district's board of directors ballot along with the candidates from the other voting taxing units.
Step 8 - Count the conservation and reclamation district's votes.
When the selection of the appraisal district's board takes place, the candidate receiving the most votes of the conservation and reclamation district is considered to have received all of the conservation and reclamation's district's votes. The votes of those districts that did not vote with the majority are considered to have been cast for the majority. So, for practical purposes, the conservation and reclamation districts vote as a group.
If the group of districts does not have enough votes to elect a director, then the districts will not be represented on the board. In some appraisal districts, conservation and reclamation districts may wish to cast votes with another voting taxing unit to have a representative on the board.
SUMMARY - Tasks for Conservation and Reclamation Districts in the Selection Process
The governing bodies of conservation and reclamation districts have certain responsibilities in the selection process. To participate, these districts must take the following actions:
- File a written request to nominate and vote on the board of directors on or before June 1 of each odd-numbered year. At least one eligible conservation and reclamation district in the appraisal district must make this request.
- Nominate a candidate for the board of director's selection ballot. Each district's governing body makes a nomination by resolution of and submits to the chief appraiser on or before July 14.
- Choose a nominee from the nominating ballot on or before August 14. A conservation and reclamation district's nominee must be chosen from the nominating ballot submitted by the chief appraiser. The nomination must be by resolution of the district's board of directors.
- Engage in the alternate nominating process, if necessary. Conservation and reclamation districts must participate in an alternate nomination process if no candidate on the nominating ballot receives at least 10 percent of the district's votes.
- Participate in the appraisal district's board of directors selection process. Conservation and reclamation districts must vote for appraisal district directors in the same manner as other voting taxing units. The candidate who receives the votes of most of the conservation and reclamation districts is considered to have received all of the district's votes.
Conservation and Reclamation District Participation in Other Appraisal District Matters
Conservation and reclamation districts have a vote in appraisal district matters, even though the districts may not have requested to vote in the selection of appraisal district directors. Any provision of the code that permits a taxing unit to vote also applies to conservation and reclamation districts. This permission to vote explicitly includes the right to disapprove the appraisal district's budget or veto an appraisal board action.
In exercising this right to vote in appraisal district matters, the conservation and reclamation districts vote as a block. The districts are considered to have exercised their vote only if the majority of the districts take the same action to exercise that vote. Otherwise, they are considered not to have voted.