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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015 by Jo Clifton
Junk Yard Dogs answers city’s TCAD lawsuit
Junk Yard Dogs LP, the owner of a commercial property at 8322 Cross Park Drive, on Monday responded to the city’s lawsuit against the Travis Central Appraisal District and all owners of commercial and vacant property in the county. The business’s response cites numerous alleged legal errors on the part of the city in filing the lawsuit.
Filing the response for Junk Yard Dogs were attorneys Lorri Michel, Raymond Gray, Shane Rogers, Joseph Harrison IV, William Noe and Bill Aleshire. Also Monday, James Popp, an attorney for the Texas Association of Realtors, filed a general denial, indicating the group’s intention to help other parties fight the city in this suit.
Aleshire explained that the first allegation of error is related to the city’s failure to file its lawsuit on a timely basis. The city lost its challenge to appraisals of commercial and vacant property at the Appraisal Review Board on June 22. “So they should have filed their challenge within 60 days, either on August 21 or August 22. They were late by at least three days,” Aleshire said. The suit was filed on Aug. 24, the same day the appraisal district announced its valuations.
Junk Yard Dogs also said that the city has completely failed to serve with legal process any of the thousands of property owners named in the lawsuit. “You do have to exercise diligence in getting those parties served. They have done just the opposite. They haven’t tried to serve anybody,” Aleshire said, indicating that he did not think any request from the city to be relieved of the obligation of service would be successful.
“They didn’t file the lawsuit on time and didn’t serve the defendants in a reasonable time,” Aleshire concluded. But that’s not all. The lawyers also complained about TCAD sending what the defendants consider inadequate and misleading notice to the property owners.
According to the lawsuit, “The statutorily mandated notice to all C1 (commercial) and F1 (vacant) property owners in the district was not sent by the deadline required” in a section of the Tax Code, “and a second (and apparently misleading) notice was sent to C1 and F1 property owners outside the City of Austin even later. These statutory deadlines are strictly construed and failure to comply denies the Court of jurisdiction.”
If the court found that it did not have jurisdiction, that would be the end of the lawsuit.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.
Travis Central Appraisal District: The tax appraisal district for Travis County.