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County taxpayers to see $2.2 million in refunds




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The Wilson County Tax Office is issuing more than $2 million in property tax refunds, after a calculation error was discovered, due to incomplete instructions by a software provider. N. KILBEY-SMITH/Wilson County News

The Wilson County Tax Office is issuing more than $2 million in property tax refunds, after a calculation error was discovered, due to incomplete instructions by a software provider. N. KILBEY-SMITH/Wilson County News

Some Wilson County property owners will be receiving refunds — and the total comes to more than $2 million.

It was a request from a neighboring county for a report that first alerted Wilson County Tax Assessor-Collector Dawn Polasek Barnett that something was amiss.

“Guadalupe County reached out for reports related to SB2,” Barnett told the Wilson County News. Senate Bill 2 (SB2) passed by the Texas Legislature and approved by voters in 2023, increased the exemption for residential homesteads from $40,000 to $100,000.

Guadalupe County told Barnett the numbers didn’t look right, so she checked with the company that provided the Wilson County tax office with software to compute and assess taxes for Wilson County and the other taxing entities in the county.

The compression rate had not been included for 2022 and 2023, Barnett discovered.

According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, “Every local school district adopts a maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate to pay for its day-to-day expenses. The rate is then multiplied against a property’s value (less exemptions) to produce a tax bill. Tax rate compression simply refers to an intentional act to lower the tax rate, which reduces what taxpayers owe.”

Barnett reviewed all the instructions received from the software company, Harris Govern, regarding the tax levy process. Jenny Coldewey, chief appraiser for Wilson County, who shares a server with Barnett’s office, also reviewed her records. Nowhere was the compression rate included in the process.

“Our software company failed to tell us this was necessary,” Barnett said.

It’s not only Wilson County that’s been affected this way, she advised, adding that counties across the state are finding similar errors.

Once the error was identified and corrected, Barnett’s office discovered 3,600 refunds were due.

But this only affects property taxes levied by school districts, Barnett emphasized.

And refunds are due only to certain taxpayers, those whose taxes are affected by a “freeze.” This includes those who are age 65 and older or who are disabled; if you are in these categories and have a homestead exemption, then a refund should be coming your way.

Barnett began contacting school districts in Wilson County to advise them of the issue.

Because of the error, the following total refunds are due:

•Floresville Independent School District (ISD) — $968,170.46

•La Vernia ISD — $1,003,506.20

•Poth ISD — $120,391.56

•Stockdale ISD — $119,934.07.

However, Wilson County cannot refund the money, until the school districts approve the amounts and remit the funds to the tax office.

To date, Poth ISD approved its refunds as of April 10, and La Vernia trustees gave their approval April 15. As of April 24, Poth ISD had remitted the funds, but La Vernia ISD still had not.

“We started issuing checks today for Poth,” Barnett said April 24.

The Floresville and Stockdale school boards have yet to approve their refunds; these will be on agendas for upcoming meetings.

Once the school boards approve the measures, the clock starts ticking. Barnett’s office has 60 days from those dates to send the refunds to the taxpayers.

“Everything is prepared and ready to start issuing refunds,” Barnett said. “A letter will accompany the refunds to explain it [to taxpayers].

“We’ll process them as quickly as we can.”

She said anyone with questions regarding the refunds is welcome to contact her at 830- 393-7313, or visit the Wilson County Tax Office at 1 Library Lane in downtown Floresville.

nkilbey-smith@wcn-online.com