The Lamar County Appraisal District plans to pay $625,000 for the purchase of the downtown Peoples Bank building at the corner of 1st Street SW and Grand Avenue, if the tax appraisal entity gains approval from the 11 jurisdictions it serves.
A proposal is making rounds to the governing boards of Lamar County and the municipalities and schools the district serves. Three-fourths of the jurisdictions must approve the purchase price plus closing costs and agree to long-term financing.
“We are out of room,” Chief Appraiser Jerry Patton said of the facility at 521 Bonham St. “I need to hire two more appraisers, and I don’t have anywhere to put them.”
Patton said his need for additional staff comes from the district’s inability to appraise school districts on a yearly basis, rather than every two years, to more closely match appraisals performed yearly by the Texas Comptroller. Under appraisals present problems to schools, which receive funding based on state appraisals but collect taxes based on local appraisals.
On May 29, the appraisal district board voted 2-1 to submit the proposed purchase to its jurisdictions.
Chairman Terry Christian, an officer with Peoples Bank, recused himself from the vote, and Kelly Jeffrey was absent. David Dunmon and Kenneth Kohls voted in favor and Keith Mitchell against.
When asked about his reasons for opposition, Mitchell declined to comment but said fellow board members know his reasons, and he planned to share information with Lamar County Commissioners Court, which appointed the former Precinct 4 commissioner to the appraisal district board.
“I will be glad to come to meetings of any of the boards and share my reasons,” Mitchell said.
Patton explained each of the 11 taxing entities served by the appraisal district pays a percentage of the district’s annual budget based on tax revenue. Included are the cities of Blossom, 0.3596%; Deport, 0.1572%; Paris, 13.9297%; Reno, 1.0764%; Roxton, 0.1533%; Honey Grove, 0.1449%; in addition to Lamar County, 19.8420%; and school districts Chisum, 18.2129%; North Lamar, 18.7684%; Paris, 17.0294%; Prairiland, 3.8196; and Paris Junior College, 4.2949%.
The proposal goes before Paris City Council and Chisum ISD at Monday meetings.