Tuesday’s meeting of the Stephenville City Council kicked off with an annual report from the Erath County Appraisal District. 

Chief Appraiser Jerry Lee delivered the report and said for the most part, 2009 values within Stephenville remained the same as 2008.

“There were some increases on individual properties,” Lee said, explaining that the district found some properties where additions or improvements meant that the prior evaluations were not accurate.

Lee said there were a number of new properties added to the tax roll, or list of taxable property within the city. According to Lee’s report, new property attributed to a $11,686,190 increase in market value and the average property value within the city rings in at $94,067.

The report also showed that the total market value within the city is $1,200,754,250 with a total taxable value of $894,236,300.

“The total market value is up about $13 million over the previous year,” Lee said. “Taxable value is up by about $4 million.”

Total exemptions equal $212,423,640. Lee said Freeport exemptions totaled about $60 million, abatements were about $700,000 and pollution control was about $200,000.

Freeport exemptions and tax abatements are subject to approval by the city while pollution control is dictated by the state.

Freeports have been granted to five of the city’s industry leaders - Fibergrate, FMC Technologies, Emerson (EGS Electrical, formerly Appleton Electric), Saint-Gobain Abrasives and Caporal Industries. Saint Gobain, Caporal and Dowell Ace Hardware were granted tax abatements. Caporal and Dowell are in the final year of their abatement agreements. Saint-Gobain also qualified for a pollution exemption.

While Caporal may no longer be a part of the local economy, the figures presented were a snapshot of the city as of Jan. 1.

Other exemptions include those on the homesteads of senior citizens as well as exemptions for the homes of disabled veterans. In the city, total disabled veterans’ exemptions totaled $1,785,750.

Following a move by the 81st Texas Legislature, military veterans who apply for the exemption and qualify by being totally disabled or unable to work due to service-related injuries, will pay no property taxes. House Bill 3613, co-authored by State Representative Sid Miller, makes qualified veterans eligible for the new exemption for the 2009 tax year.

Lee said he recently reviewed a real estate study of metropolitan areas, which showed sales are down and prices are up in larger cities.

“In Stephenville, the number of sales are down, but we have had the good fortune that prices have remained constant,” Lee said. 

As for 2010, Lee said there is no way of knowing what next year might hold, but he said for the local area, numbers will likely ring in comparable to the current year.