Anonymous author strikes again

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The citizens of Fort Stockton have expressed concern regarding the

Pecos County Appraisal District’s assessments within  the Fort

Stockton Independent School District since 2010, but some apparently

shy away from being publicly acknowledged for their concern.

In August of 2016, FSISD filed suit against SandRidge Energy, Inc. and

the Pecos County Appraisal District for $500 million in property

taxes, saying the Appraisal District had omitted property from the

appraisal rolls for the tax years 2010 to 2015. The suit was

effectively dismissed in United States Bankruptcy Court for the

Southern District of Texas on Feb. 3 of 2017. Chief United States

Bankruptcy Judge, David R. Jones, dismissed the case, stating, “…I

can’t read the complaint and create a plausible claim of fraud based

on what’s in the pleading, so I would dismiss the complaint…”.

Just a little background,” said Calderon, “FSISD and their attorneys

claimed that there was 500 million in tax dollars that we missed. And

it started at 500 million and they said, ‘Well, maybe it’s 50

million’, then they went down to 10 million, and now they’re trying to

sue my mineral appraisers and they’ll call it even.”

In March of this year, following the dismissal of the case, the

Pioneer reported that PCAD Chief Appraiser Sam Calderon III received

an anonymous letter to his home address regarding this issue.

Another anonymous letter has begun to circulate, and a number of

citizens and officials, including the Pioneer, have received copies.

The Pioneer received  a typed page from the unnamed sender, and a copy

of a letter from lawyers from Curtis/Castillo to Chief Appraiser

Calderon, dated June 16, 2017, and the subject line says, “Final

demand by the Fort Stockton Independent School District.” The letter

details that unless the Appraisal District adds the omitted property

to the appraisal rolls for 2017 by a certain date, they will pursue

legal action.

Calderon explained that in February, the office went to federal court

in Houston. He said the judge presiding over the trial claimed he

didn’t see any fraud, and that the judge thought there were local

remedies that could resolve this issue. The judge stated that he saw

no case for wrongdoing and dismissed the plea.

“We’ve asked Curtis/Castillo to give us information, specifics on the

properties that they believe we missed,” Calderon said. “They’ve

continued to feel that we’ve missed something, but everything they

bring to the table has either already been accounted for or we’ve

disproved.”

Calderon noted that the attorneys gave them a list of taxable

SandRidge properties that were allegedly omitted by the Pecos County

Appraisal District in 2015. Stephen Campbell, President of Pickett &

Company, Inc., an auditing firm, reviewed all omitted properties as

presented by the attorneys of FSISD. Out of almost 830 properties

listed, none were omitted; in fact, a large portion of the properties

listed by FSISD’s attorneys weren’t even located in FSISD, but in

Buena Vista or Iraan/Sheffield school districts.

Calderon also said that bi-annually, the Appraisal District brings in

the Texas Comptroller for a property value study, where the Appraisal

District’s information is audited. Since 2010, three total studies

have been completed with no issues.

“They come in and audit our values,” Calderon said. “In other words,

what they do is pick random samples, test the values, and do their own

appraisal on it. Then they compare their appraisal to ours.”

Part of the state comptroller’s duties ensure all appraisal districts

assess property correctly.

Calderon shook his head, “We haven’t had any problems with our values.

That’s what we’ve been telling the attorneys. For anything to be

wrong, it would have to have gone over the Comptroller, the Railroad

Commission, and us three times.”

While the Appraisal District and Calderon have this information on

hand and are willing to explain it freely, Calderon stated that

FSISD’s attorneys have prohibited the District from meeting with the

school board.

“This is because of possible litigation between them and our mineral

appraisers for our mineral values, which hasn’t gone anywhere. The

attorneys don’t seem to want to discuss it in open session. They don’t

want us to go and give a presentation to the school board. They don’t

seem to want to understand the answers we are giving them.”

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