Corpus Christi City Council members voted 5-4 in favor of the appointment of Jerry Garcia to the Nueces County Appraisal District Board of Directors.
Garcia, a former city council member from 2005-07, will replace board member Sandy Billish, who resigned in August to accept a position at Del Mar College. The owner of Hacienda Construction, Garcia has nearly 30 years of real estate and development experience in the Coastal Bend area.
Garcia said following the council’s appointment that he is looking forward to bringing competency and transparency to the Appraisal District’s processes.
“There is some chaos there. We need to throughly investigate and bring all the issues to the forefront. We need to restore confidence with the citizens of Nueces County. People should have faith in the system,” he said. “A lot of citizens are not satisfied, and you can’t please everyone, but you have to bring competence to the appraisals and have a clear agenda that everyone gets treated equally.”
Garcia called for competency hearings and a directly stated account of who is doing what in the Appraisal District. Garcia said it was his understanding that Grant has submitted a letter of resignation, and he wants to make sure the process moves forward with a set date. Garcia said he is humbled by the council’s support in him, and believes that by appointing someone with such extensive real estate experience, they are looking for someone who can straighten out the problems at the Appraisal District.
“I feel they have that stance,” Garcia said. “In my private business, I would not tolerate that level of incompetence.”
The Nueces County Appraisal District has been kept under a watchful eye in recent months due to mistakes made on property appraisal calculations for both the City of Corpus Christi and Port Aransas.
In the case of Corpus Christi appraisal values, homestead exemptions were counted twice within the city, which made it appear that the city would be facing a 6 percent decrease in property values this year.
Jay Reynolds, assistant chief appraiser made a presentation explaining the miscalculation to the city council in July. Council members and city staff had spent two months working on preliminary budget numbers with a property value decrease expected.
Reynolds’ new figures showed that the city actually had a nearly 2 percent increase in appraised values.
From that point forward, a series of changes have taken place in the Appraisal District, including the announced retirement of longtime chief appraiser Ollie Grant, Billish’s resignation as one of two city representatives on the board, the firing of two Appraisal District employees and an internal investigation of the Appraisal District itself.
Reynolds has also been placed on administrative leave following a complaint filed by appraisal board member John Sendejar with the Corpus Christi Police Department. The investigation is still ongoing.