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Corpus Christi residents expected to see property tax increase

Chief Tax Appraiser for Nueces County Ronnie Canales says property values will continue to increase for the next three years.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Property taxes are increasing for local homeowners and more than 160,000 residents in Corpus Christi will be affected.

The appraisal notices will be mailed out between Wednesday and Thursday of this week, so residents are encouraged to be on the lookout.

The notices are an indication the local economy is doing well, so it's not all bad news, according to Ronnie Canales, the chief tax appraiser for Nueces County.

He encourages those who are unhappy with their notices to act quickly and appeal. He says that process is pretty simple.

"All you've got to do is just make sure you can make a phone call here before you come to this office," Canales said. "Bring some information with you instead of just coming to here to say my property is not worth this much."

Canales told 3News the reasons for the spike are a healthy economy and an increase in supply and demand.

"If you drive around the city or the county, you will see a lot of new construction, meaning there's a lot of new subdivisions, strip centers, several apartment complexes that are coming up in there either in the beginning stages or the ended status."

Canales believes property values will continue to rise possibly into the next two or three years.

Litigation with refineries a concern for tax appraiser

Canales also blamed litigation with refineries for rising appraisals although energy companies dispute that charge.

"Valero in particular -- who is still in litigation going on five years -- and they seem not to want to pay their fair share," Canales said. "Whatever they don't have to pay -- Valero -- the homeowner has to pick up. Because that's how it works."

Valero spoke to 3News on Tuesday and believes it has a right to challenge its own property valuations.

"Valero has tried to work in good faith with the Nueces County Appraisal District and is currently paying a fair amount based on what has previously been agreed to with (the Nueces County Appraisal District) for property taxes," spokesperson Darcy Schroeder said in a statement. "NCAD continues to significantly overvalue our properties, including increases being more than half a billion over our last agreed value. Valero takes great pride in being a strong community partner, employer, and neighbor in all the communities in which it operates, including Nueces County."

Valero has sued the Nueces County Appraisal District multiple times since 2015 to challenge its assessed property valuations. In turn, in 2019, Canales sued Valero.

At the time, he said the energy giant's property near the Port of Corpus Christi was worth nearly $1.2 billion. Valero said it was worth less than half that.

Valero has also sued appraisal districts in San Antonio, Houston, Beaumont and Galveston.

Real estate market still booming in Coastal Bend

CEO of Corpus Christi Association of Realtors Elke Gonzalez said the real estate market is outperforming itself.

"Homeowners in the Coastal Bend area need to understand that they need to know the importance of filing that homestead exemption. So when a appraisal district assesses value on homes, by law they cannot increase an assessed value, which is the value you're going to be taxed at by more than 10%."

Gonzalez feels that residents are learning the value of viewing their homes as an investment.

"So it's still a great opportunity, it's still a great time to purchase a home in our area where our median home price is still a little less than $265,000."

One of the most important details, however, about the economic climate surrounding home ownership is coming soon. On May 7, there will be a constitutional amendment that everyone will have an opportunity to vote on: Prop 2.

The amendment would raise the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000.

"We want to make sure to support that initiative because it's something that's good for everyone and especially homeowners," said Gonzalez.

It is also important to note that if you are 65 and older, disabled, or a disabled veteran, exemptions like those can fit into your property tax appraisal.

Deadlines to protest appraisals for Nueces County are between now and July. For information, click here.

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