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Schneider v. Williamson Central Appraisal District

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

May 31, 2017

Larry G. Schneider, Appellant
v.
Williamson Central Appraisal District, Appellee

          FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY, 368TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT NO. 15-0892-C368, HONORABLE RICK J. KENNON, JUDGE PRESIDING

          Before Justices Puryear, Pemberton, and Goodwin

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          David Puryear, Justice

         In this ad valorem tax case, Larry G. Schneider appeals the trial court's final judgment dismissing his claims against the Williamson Central Appraisal District (the District) complaining of the valuation of his property and of the manner in which the District performs mass appraisals in Williamson County. The trial court granted the District's plea to the jurisdiction and no-evidence motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, we will affirm.

         BACKGROUND [1]

         After unsuccessfully protesting the taxes assessed on his property by the District, Schneider filed this pro se lawsuit alleging that a recent change in the District's appraisal methods is unconstitutional and illegal and seeking injunctive relief prohibiting the District from using its new appraisal method, known as ANSI Z765, which allegedly calculates square footage of a home using outside rather than inside dimensions. The District filed a plea to the jurisdiction and a no-evidence motion for summary judgment, both of which the trial court granted, and Schneider appeals.

         DISCUSSION

         On appeal, Schneider contends that the trial court erred in dismissing his claims because

          (1) sufficient evidence supports his claim that the District unequally appraised his property;

         (2) the District does not have the statutory authority to "redefine" a square foot of living area; and

         (3) the District's use of ANSI Z765 is in violation of the Texas Constitution. We will address each issue in turn.

         Appraisal challenge

         Schneider's petition seeks de novo review of the District's appraisal of his property as upheld by the appraisal review board, contending that he is entitled to an adjustment to his 2015 appraised value because his property was not appraised equally and uniformly. See Tex. Tax Code §§ 42.23 (providing for de novo review of order of appraisal review board), .26 (providing remedies for property that is appraised unequally). In his response to the District's no-evidence motion on this claim, Schneider submitted various attachments purporting to create a fact issue, including his pleadings and various non-authenticated documents, which the District contends are not admissible due to this authentication defect; Schneider submitted no affidavits, either from himself or any other party. See Blanche v. First Nationwide Mortg. Corp., 74 S.W.3d 444, 451 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2002, no pet.) ("A complete absence of authentication is a defect of substance that is not waived by a party failing to object and may be urged for the first time on appeal."). The District contends that, nonetheless, the entirety of the "evidence" submitted by Schneider in response to its motion does not amount to more than a scintilla to create a fact issue on whether the District unequally appraised his property. We agree with the District.

         The Tax Code provides for three means by which a property owner may show that his property has been unequally appraised. See Tex. Tax Code ยง 42.26(a)(1) (requiring showing that appraisal ratio of property exceeds by 10 percent the median level of appraisal of reasonable and representative sample of other properties in district), (a)(2) (requiring showing that appraisal ratio of property exceeds by at least 10 percent the median level of appraisal of sample of properties in district consisting of reasonable number of properties similarly situated to, or of same general kind of character as, property subject to appeal), (a)(3) (requiring showing that appraised value of property exceeds the median appraised value of reasonable number of comparable properties appropriately adjusted). Schneider's summary-judgment evidence wholly fails to address the issue of the median appraisal values as required by these statutory means to demonstrate an unequal appraisal. Accordingly, he did not present ...


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