City of Corpus Christi property appraisals were off by more than 8 percent due to a computer error, according to officials with the Nueces County Appraisal District last week.

Corpus Christi City Council members had been working on the proposed 2012 budget with the belief that appraisal district property valuations would come in 6 percent below last year’s estimates.

That percentage was based on the the appraisal district’s own calculations, which will be final on July 25.

For the past two months, the council has encouraged city staff to proceed with cuts to the proposed budget in order to overcome a feared budget shortfall.

Items such as MHMR, Sister City Program, and senior center and library budgets have been slashed. There was also a consolidation and/or reduction of more than 100 city employee positions.

On July 12, Nueces County Assistant Chief Appraiser Jay Reynolds admitted to the council that the 6 percent decrease was based on a computer error, and that, in fact, city appraisal values were up by 2 percent compared to last year.

Councilman Mark Scott expressed his displeasure at the news.

“How do you go from a 6.6 percent decrease to a 2 percent increase in appraised value?” Scott asked.

Scott referenced several residents he claimed to have spoken to from around the area who were also shocked at the alleged decrease in values, as they themselves had experienced increases in their property values.

“This hasn’t happened before. The changes are generally less than 1 percent,” Reynolds said. “We changed to a new software system and fell behind on appraisal work”

“We were hoping the system would work the way we wanted it to, but for some reason, the computer doubled the city’s homestead exemptions — a $700 million mistake,” he added.

Already two months into the budget process, Scott questioned how the appraisal district didn’t catch the problem sooner.

He pointed to preliminary appraisal numbers issued to Nueces County, which were down only 1 percent from last year’s valuations.

Reynolds informed city staff on June 28 that there might be an issue with the 6.6 percent decrease figure, but it wasn’t until almost two weeks later, that the numbers could be confirmed.