BELTON — Drive across Bell County and you will see construction crews standing up wooden frames of soon to-be businesses and homes as the population pushes 400,000.
For proof that this county is growing, look at the 2019 preliminary values that the Tax Appraisal District of Bell County released Thursday morning in Belton.
Overall, preliminary values in Bell County are up 6.47 percent, according to data from the Tax Appraisal District. That brings the county’s estimates for this year to more than $19.7 billion. Last year, certified values were pegged at $18 billion.
These values will form the basis of local governments’ budgets for the next fiscal year.
Only 12 preliminary values were ready on Thursday. The remaining values will be completed in the coming weeks.
“That’s certainly a good number because of the indication that it generally means there has been a lot of new construction,” Bell County Commissioner Bill Schumann said of the county’s estimated value. “Until we get the final numbers in July, it’s still fluid.”
These numbers, as Schumann pointed out, may change as the district adjusts appraisals. Certified values are expected to be released in July.
“I would say that (the preliminary values) are still conservative, but I don’t know how many protests we’re going to get this year,” Chief Appraiser Billy White said, explaining that as residents protest the proposed appraisals the district will adjust local governments’ values.
Values in the city of Temple are in line with the estimated increases across the county. Temple’s values are expected to increase by 6.1 percent to a value of $5.2 billion.
Temple Finance Director Traci Barnard echoed Schumann in saying these numbers are preliminary and will be treated as such.
“There is no doubt commercial and residential development is very robust in Temple at the moment,” Barnard said, adding that her department tracks the city’s economic indicators and that she expected values to increase this year.
Temple Independent School District also is seeing growth.
“Preliminary property values for Temple ISD are up 4.82 percent, bringing total values to more than $4.1 billion,” Chief Financial Officer Kallen Vaden said. “This is indicative of the growth in the district, and we expect that growth to continue.”
Vaden noted that in spite of increasing property values, school finance reform currently under debate in the Texas Legislature could lead to property tax relief later this year.
Values in the neighboring city of Belton are now more than $1.2 billion — an increase of 8 percent.
“The values reflect a strong real estate market in Belton,” Belton Finance Director Brandon Bozon said. “The tax base growth due to new structures and improvements reflects what the city’s Planning Department gets to see every day: Belton is a growing community that is experiencing new and exciting investment.”
Belton Independent School District’s preliminary values increased by 10.34 percent to more than $3.7 billion. The school district covers Belton, West Temple and parts of unincorporated Bell County.
Belton ISD Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Land said that because of ongoing fast growth, the district anticipated increased values. However, once the numbers are official, this may be the largest increase Belton ISD has ever seen.
“Belton ISD’s preliminary values reflect the continued growth of our community and the significance of this area to families who seek quality educational opportunities and a great place to live and raise their families,” Land said.
Salado ISD’s values increased by 11.7 percent to more than $1 billion.
Property owners in the Salado Independent School District have expressed frustration over their proposed appraisals. Salado ISD’s increases can mostly be attributed to the fact that properties have been undervalued in recent years, White said during a recent town hall in the village.
Properties in the Academy, Belton, Holland and Salado school districts generally have seen a median increase between 10 to 13 percent, White told the Telegram last week.
The Tax Appraisal District is encouraging Bell County residents to visit its main office in Belton, 411 E. Central Ave., to discuss their proposed appraisals.
Property owners can walk into the office from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until mid-May to discuss how the district arrived at the proposed property value. The deadline to protest is May 15.
Staff writer Mariel Williams contributed to this report.
Here are preliminary values by taxing entity, compared to 2018 certified values. Some entities’ preliminary numbers have not been released.
Entity 2018 Certified value Preliminary value Percent change
Bell County $18,057,494,104 $19,733,467,761 6.47%
Belton ISD $3,230,775,586 $3,739,026,132 10.34%
City of Belton $1,117,518,386 $1,242,008,150 8.04%
City of Temple $4,780,725,626 $5,210,694,425 6.1%
City of Harker Heights $1,729,751,284 $1,869,707,214 2.27%
City of Holland $32,996,420 $40,428,351 20.92%
Killeen ISD $7,717,532,693 $8,405,418,949 6.59%
Salado ISD $877,401,030 $1,038,078,954 11.71%
Morgan’s Point Resort $269,994,004 $313,842,813 10.81%
WCID No. 6 $5,261,702,948 $5,799,654,910 8.73%
Temple Health & Bioscience District $5,527,868,214 $5,981,125,659 5.54%
Clearwater UWCD $18,558,691,516 $20,255,626,622 6.4%
SOURCE: Tax Appraisal District of Bell County