Tarrant’s top property tax appraiser suspended

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM)  The Tarrant Appraisal District suspended its chief appraiser Friday, and he in turn, suspended his director of residential appraisals.

One board member wanted chief appraiser Jeff Law to be fired over the public fallout from his mismanagement of an official complaint to the state against a man who tries to help homeowners lower their property values and tax bills for free.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation this week found there was insufficient evident that tax consultant and realtor Chandler Crouch had broken any laws or rules in assisting tens of thousands of property owners.

With home values soaring this year, likely leading to higher tax bills in a few months, hundreds of people turned out at a meeting in June to defend Crouch and filled a room again on Friday, critical of the district’s handling of the issue.

Board chair Kathryn Wilemon defended the board, saying she didn’t appreciate attacks on their integrity or honesty.

Law was allowed to do his own investigation into the filing of four complaints against Crouch from district employee Randy Armstrong. In part, they alleged Crouch knowingly misrepresented values and facts about properties, and couldn’t possibly responsibly represent thousands of homeowners.

A summary of his findings the board released concluded Armstrong filed the complaints “in a context fraught with considerable political and personal history.”

However, Law also said he found the complaints were “not for illegitimate, retaliatory or personal reasons.”

Law knew about the complaints when Crouch asked him about them in November, but took no action until a reporter started looking into the issue in May.

It wasn’t immediately clear how long Law would suspend Armstrong, with his summary referring to the complaints as a “perceived lapse in judgement.

Crouch was not happy at all with Law’s decision, calling it “completely ridiculous.” As to Law’s suspension, he thought the board deliberated about it thoughtfully.

“I wanted to see them pursue the truth and considering everything thoughtfully and I will respect their decision,” he said.

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