AT&T files suit against appraisal district

Not happy with the appraised value of its cellular service store in the Golden Triangle, AT&T Mobility has filed suit against the Jefferson County Appraisal District, claiming its property tax rate is "excessive and unlawful."

AT&T alleges the method used by the Appraisal District was "antiquated, unfair and erroneous."

Attorney Daniel Donovan filed the suit on AT&T's behalf with the Jefferson County District Court on Sept. 12.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, in May 2007, AT&T learned that the Appraisal District had finished an appraisal of the 2007 market value of businesses properties. After the assessing period, the Appraisal District set the ad valorem tax rate.

"The Appraisal District appraised the value of the Property at an amount in excess of the appraised value required by law," the original petition stated.

AT&T appeared before the appraisal review board to protest the tax rate and to present evidence that its taxes were excessive.

"Plaintiff's evidence demonstrated that the appraised value of the property required by law was substantially less than the value placed upon it by defendant. The Review Board set the appraised value of the Property at amounts in excess of the appraised value required by law," the suit said.

The suit goes on to say the value placed on the AT&T's property represents a value in excess of fair market value. "The appraised value is unfair and discriminatory, arrived at through the adoption, application, use and enforcement of a fundamentally erroneous and unlawful plan, method and formula of valuation and assessment."

"Plaintiff alleges that the adoption and use of such a fundamentally erroneous and unlawful plan for establishing the appraised value of the Property has resulted in a substantially excessive valuation in violation of the Constitution, Property Tax Code and Statutes of the State of Texas which provide that no property shall be assessed at a value greater than its market value," the suit said.

"Plaintiff alleges that the value placed on the property is based upon an appraisal method which is antiquated, unfair, and erroneous and which does not take into account all relevant factors and indicators of market value, and that the appraisal so made is void, unlawful and should be canceled and set aside," the suit said.

When AT&T appears before Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, it will request:

-An order be entered by the Court canceling and setting aside the decision of the Review Board;
-An order be entered fixing, in accordance with the law, the correct appraised value of the Property as required by law;
-A mandatory injunction be issued compelling the Appraisal District to correct the 2007 appraisal roll to show the proper appraised value of the Property and requiring the assessor for each affected taxing unit to prepare and deliver a corrected tax bill based on the correct appraised value;
-The Court enter such other orders as are necessary to preserve the rights protected by and impose duties required by law;
-Plaintiff recover its reasonable attorneys' fees;
-Plaintiff recover all costs of court in this cause;
-And plaintiff have such other and further relief, general or special, legal or equitable, which Plaintiff may be justly entitled to receive.

Case No. A180-021

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