DAVID PIWONKA, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS TAX ASSESSOR-COLLECTOR FOR CYPRESS-FAIRBANKS ISD, CYPRESS-FAIRBANKS ISD, ANN HARRIS BENNETT, 1 IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS TAX ASSESSOR-COLLECTOR FOR HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, and HARRISCOUNTY, TEXAS, Appellants
SPX CORPORATION D/B/A SPX FLOW TECHNOLOGY, Appellee
Appeal from the 80th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2015-08078
consists of Justices Busby, Donovan, and Wise.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
Piwonka, in his official capacity as Tax Assessor-Collector
for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD
(collectively "Cy-Fair appellants"), and Mike
Sullivan, in his official capacity as Tax Assessor-Collector
for Harris County, Texas, both appeal the denial of their
pleas to the jurisdiction. The pleas were filed in a suit
brought by SPX Corporation d/b/a SPX Flow Technology alleging
improper correction of the tax appraisal roll. Specifically, SPX
challenges Sullivan's assessment of taxes for Lone Star
College and Harris County Emergency Services District #9
("HCESD#9") for tax years 2010-2013 and penalties
and interest for tax year 2010 on behalf of those two taxing
units. Further, SPX contests Piwonka's assessment of
taxes for Cy-Fair ISD for tax years 2010-2013 and penalties
and interest for those tax years.
owns tangible personal property ("the property")
located within Harris County, Texas. In December 2013, Sands
Stiefer, Chief Appraiser for Harris County Appraisal District
("HCAD"), realized the property was not listed
under the correct taxing jurisdictions on the appraisal roll.
HCAD sought to correct the appraisal roll by changing the
taxing jurisdictions for the property from Houston ISD
("HISD"), Houston Community College
("HCC"), and City of Houston ("COH"),
where the property was incorrectly listed, to Cy-Fair ISD,
Lone Star College, and Harris County Emergency Services
District #9 ("HCESD#9"). In its pleadings, SPX
concedes the appraisal record should have been corrected once
the error was discovered.
January 2014, HCAD filed a motion under section 25.25(c)(3)
of the Tax Code to change the property's appraisal roll
entry for tax years 2010-2013, inclusive, to reflect the
correct taxing jurisdictions. See Tex. Tax Code Ann.
§ 25.25(c)(3) (West 2015). The Harris County Appraisal
Review Board ("ARB") approved the motion.
to HCAD, a letter for each tax year was sent to SPX's tax
agent on February 18, 2014. The letters informed SPX that
HCAD had taken action to correct the tax appraisal rolls in
accordance with section 25.25(c)(3) and that a protest could
be filed with the ARB within 30 days of the date of the
letter. SPX contends it never received the notice.
April and May of 2014, corrected appraisal rolls were
generated to remove HISD, HCC, and COH for tax years 2010,
2011, 2012, and 2013. Also, corrected appraisal rolls were
generated to add Cy-Fair ISD, Lone Star College, and HCESD#9
as the correct jurisdictions for tax years 2010, 2011, 2012,
translated these changes into tax bills and refunds for each
taxing jurisdiction other than Cy-Fair ISD, but he did not
process each tax year in the same manner. For tax year 2010,
Sullivan processed a refund to SPX of the taxes paid to HISD,
HCC, and COH in May 2014. Sullivan later sent SPX a corrected
tax bill for tax year 2010 to collect taxes owed to Lone Star
College and HCESD#9. Sullivan concedes the record does not
reflect when the corrected tax bill was sent, but the
delinquency date (when penalties and interest would begin to
be owed if the bill was not paid) utilized by Sullivan was
August 1, 2014.
years 2011 through 2013, however, Sullivan followed a
different procedure. For tax year 2011, Sullivan processed a
refund to SPX of the taxes paid to HISD, HCC, and COH, and
paid the taxes owed to Lone Star College and HCESD#9.
Sullivan did the same for tax year 2012 and 2013. For tax
years 2011, 2012, and 2013, the taxes paid to HISD, HCC and
COH were more than those owed to Lone Star College and
HCESD#9, so refund checks were issued for the balance.
paid no taxes to Cy-Fair ISD because it has its own tax
collector. Cy-Fair ISD issued corrected tax bills for tax
years 2010 through 2013. The delinquency dates utilized for
these bills were in May, June, and July 2014.
delinquency notices were sent, SPX tendered payment, under
protest, of the taxes owed to Lone Star College and HCESD#9
for tax year 2010 and to Cy-Fair ISD for tax years 2010-2013,
but not the claimed penalties and interest. In September
2014, SPX filed a protest with the ARB pursuant to section
41.49(a)(9) of the Tax Code. See Tex. Tax Code Ann.
§ 41.41(a)(9) (West 2015). SPX's protest disputed
that it received notice of the correction by letters dated
February 18, 2014. See Tex. Tax Code Ann. §
41.411 (West 2015). The ARB denied SPX's protest by
February 12, 2015, SPX filed suit against HCAD, ARB,
Sullivan, in his official capacity as Tax Assessor-Collector
for Harris County, Stiefer in his official capacity as Chief
Appraiser for HCAD, Harris County, Cy-Fair ISD, and Piwonka,
in his official capacity as Tax Assessor-Collector for
Cy-Fair ISD. In its petition, SPX "does not dispute that
the appraisal record should have been changed to indicate
Cy-Fair ISD and the other new entities once the error was
discovered." Rather, SPX contends the changes were not
made in accordance with the provisions of the Tax Code.
Cy-Fair appellants moved to dismiss the case for lack of
jurisdiction. Subsequently Harris County and Sullivan also
filed a plea to the jurisdiction. The trial court denied both
Cy-Fair appellants filed a notice of interlocutory appeal
from the trial court's orders, as did Harris County and
Sullivan. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §
51.014(a)(8) (West Supp. 2016). Subsequently, SPX entered
into a Rule 11 agreement with Harris County to dismiss with
prejudice SPX's claims for the HISD, HCC, and COH taxes.
Harris County did not file a brief in this appeal and was
notified on March 2, 2017, that its appeal would be dismissed
for want of prosecution. Because the response filed March 8,
2017, does not demonstrate meritorious grounds for continuing
the appeal, Harris County's appeal is dismissed for want
begin by addressing Sullivan's contention that SPX does
not have standing to bring its suit. We will then turn to the
claims of Sullivan and Cy-Fair appellants that the trial
court should have ...