Jefferson appraisals will gauge county’s Harvey rebound
Jefferson County is on its way toward getting a clearer picture of how post-Tropical Storm Harvey recovery is going, at least for property owners.
The Jefferson Central Appraisal District is beginning to appraise properties for 2019. Those home values, compared to values in 2018, will likely give an idea of how much of the county has recovered since the storm dumped up to 5 feet of rain on the area in 2017.
According to the district, the county saw about $109.6 million of value lost in 2018, although actual totals are likely more, Chief Appraiser Angie Bellard said. Some 20,000 homes were affected by Harvey, while only 4,000 reported damage to the appraisal district or had damage visible from a drive-by inspection.
The office will be able to tell how much Harvey recovery has been done in 2018 only if it recorded damage done.
“Keep in mind, not everyone reported damage to my office,” Bellard said, adding that the office reached out to the public “in every way I could think of” to let them know damage needed to be reported to the office.
People likely didn’t report damage for a number of reasons, including not getting the district’s notifications, vacating the property or not wanting to acknowledge information flood damage on an official report.
Despite the massive amount of damage, the county didn’t see a net decrease in assessed value from 2017 to 2018 as new growth offset the losses, Bellard said. In 2017 the assessed value for the county was just under $32.1 billion, compared to $32.2 billion in 2018.
Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said the county also saw increased sales-tax collection because of an improving economy.
It’s unclear how much larger the county’s tax base will be in 2019.
“I expect appraisals to improve in 2019 as homes damaged by Harvey return to pre-disaster values,” Branick said. The county likely won’t be able to quantify how much they’ve improved until July.
Beaumont ISD, which ranks second on the appraisal district’s list of value lost because of Tropical Storm Harvey, said it also experienced an overall increase in property values, which offset declines in property values.
The district is also hopeful it will see an increase in property values next year, Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Hernandez said in an email.