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State Rep. Charlie Geren files bill to abolish Tarrant Appraisal District
By Jack Fink,
TARRANT COUNTY (CBSNewsTexas.com) – State Representative Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth filed a bill Friday that would abolish the Tarrant Appraisal District and instead, have it run by the Texas Comptroller's Office.
In an interview Tuesday, Geren told CBS News Texas, "There's been a lot of controversy over at the Tarrant Appraisal District in the last few months and years. There seems to be a lack of transparency. The Tarrant Appraisal District should never be in the newspaper and it's in the paper all the time, so there's a problem there."
If it's approved by the legislature, it will be the first time the Texas Comptroller's Office will take over a local appraisal district.
Geren said if that were to happen, appraisal district employees would remain and not lose their jobs.
For now, he acknowledged it's still very early in the process and that the bill hasn't been referred to a legislative committee. "It's basically a shell bill, but we're going to fill the details in before it goes to committee."
Rich DeOtte, secretary and now presiding officer of TAD said it's too early in the process for him to decide whether he supports Geren's bill.
But the legislation comes as the TAD Board is scheduled to meet Friday afternoon to discuss whether Chief Appraiser Jeff Law should be disciplined or fired.
DeOtte told CBS News Texas Tuesday, "I do support changes in the way management has been done."
When asked what he would like to see changed, DeOtte said, "I've called for the termination of the chief appraiser publicly before and based on the events of the last couple of weeks, I'm still in that same position."
Geren said, "Currently, if you don't have a chief appraiser, under current law, the comptroller can appoint the chief appraiser. So there's a lot of balls up in the air at this point."
Board members will also discuss Friday who should decide how former Board Chair Kathryn Wilemon should be replaced.
On Tuesday, they discussed Geren's bill for the state takeover of the district.
During the meeting, Commissioner Roy Brooks of Precinct 1 said, "We do have significant issues with TAD. But I think they're local issues that we need to correct locally. I don't know that I trust the State Comptroller's Office to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves."
Commissioner Manny Ramirez of Precinct 4 said, "With that bill, I know Representative Geren was highlighting the significant problems that are still remaining at TAD that need to be remedied."
In a statement to CBS News Texas, Judge Tim O'Hare said, "The public trust in TAD must be restored. Tarrant County taxpayers deserve transparency. I will use the authority of this office to see to it they get it."