The Tarrant Appraisal District has undergone a shake-up in recent weeks after one employee was fired and the chief appraiser resigned.
The district is responsible for appraising property values in Tarrant County, where Fort Worth is the county seat, to determine property tax bills.
Problems at the district started before recent staffing changes: The agency came under fire in the spring when it launched a website that lacked critical functionality the same week property value notices were posted.
Jess Hardin, who covers growth and development for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, said the website is a key part of how taxpayers protest their property values.
“When it came time to answer for what was going on with the website, both the public and the board of directors at TAD felt that they weren’t getting the full story,” Hardin said. “That was the context in which I received a recording of the head of IT, Cal Wood, speaking to his team and saying that he didn’t have a problem with creating a false narrative for the media regarding these tech issues.”
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Hardin said the newspaper is not disclosing the source of the tape because the person still works at the agency. Her reporting was followed by a vote of no confidence in the chief appraiser, Jeff Law, on Monday. Law then resigned from his post.
“The board on Monday appointed an interim chief appraiser, Bill Durham, who was previously the head of commercial appraisal at the agency,” Hardin said. “They did so in order to have a leader while they’re searching for a new permanent fill for that position.”
Hardin said the issues with the website already caused problems for taxpayers in the county.
“I spoke with a former employee who basically told me that she felt that these issues made it harder for folks to protest their tax appraisals this season based on the lack of functionality and the lack of communication from the agency regarding what was going on,” she said. “In addition, I would say that the public trust in the appraisal district is at an all-time low and the board and new leadership have said that they’re committed to rebuilding and ensuring transparency at the agency.”