For 2014, she said, properties in the Upshur County portions of five school districts will be inspected--Gladewater, Big Sandy, Union Grove, Union Hill, and part of the portion of Pittsburg ISD lying in the county.
The state Tax Code requires an on-site property inspection at least once every three years, and the UCAD conducts its reappraisals in sections, Mrs. Curtis explained in a news release.
"With so many properties to be seen, appointments are not made," the Chief Appraiser added. "Upshur County has great neighbors that look out for each other, and word will get around when the staff is in a particular neighborhood."
Appraisers will not ask to enter homes, but will go to the door to make anyone who is there aware they are on the property if they need to measure a new structure or re-measure an existing one, she said.
Each appraiser has identification issued by the Texas Dept. of Licensing on a lanyard identifying them, by name and photograph, as being with the Upshur County Appraisal District. In addition, field appraisers will have signs on their vehicles saying "APPRAISER" and the district's phone number, Mrs. Curtis said.
Property owners are encouraged to contact the CAD office at 843-3041 to confirm an appraiser's identity if there is any question, she added.
Staff members have a checklist for each property, and field inspections require measuring structures. In addition, based on the field manual, appraisers are to "ensure correct classification and effective age of all structures," the news release said.
Appraisers are also to "note and adjust current condition and depreciation due to all causes; identify if there are any additional issues regarding the structures or the land; ensure correct labeling and identifiers on manufactured homes"; and take a current photograph if necessary, Mrs. Curtis said.
"The Appraiser will NOT be able to discuss the value of the property," she added in the news release. "Valuations are based on sales information and applied (in) late March. At this point, each appraiser is just gathering the individual characteristics, depreciation and size of properties, not setting a value. Exemption applications are not available in the field, but will be mailed to you upon request."
"The staff works diligently to gather accurate information. However, with locked gates or pets, some dimensions may be difficult to confirm," Mrs. Curtis continued. "Based on our reappraisal areas for 2012 and 2013, staff found structures that have been gone for some (time), as well as additions and new structures that are several years old, but were not on our records. That is the intent of a reappraisal; to ensure accurate records."
The Chief Appraiser additionally noted that "each year, new construction, permits and requested rechecks are done, but property in the Reappraisal Zone must also be completed. There is a strict timeline to accomplish this task and the field staff will need to move quickly to be completed by mid-March." Therefore, field work has begun, and some citizens have already seen appraisers this year, she said.
But with the mid-March deadline, "it will be some time before" appraisers get to each property, Mrs. Curtis added.
Work will begin in the Union Hill, Pittsburg, Gladewater and City of Big Sandy areas late this month and in early September, she said. Plans call for completing the reappraisal zone by year's end and starting rechecks and permits in January.
In addition, the Appraisal District is simplifying residential class codes, which will make them easier to explain and for homeowners to understand, Mrs. Curtis said.
"Instead of the class number system, there will only be a quality and number of stories system. These will be based ffrom the Marshall Swift Residential Cost Handbook," the Chief Appraiser wrote. "The appraiser will be working to reclassify homes this year. There will be some mistakes but every effort will be made to correct the errors as soon as possible."