Bexar County Chief Appraiser Michael Amezquita has thrown in the towel in his battle against nonprofit housing developers after a devastating loss in court. I just obtained this email he recently sent to board members informing them he would no longer fight property tax exemption for these organizations.
Dear Board members,
On this past Wednesday, we lost a jury verdict on a CHODO (community housing development organizations) property exemption lawsuit here in Bexar County. While the legislature, Supreme Court, and 4th Court of Appeals have failed to deal with issues that remain in dispute locally and throughout the state, we will seek to extricate Bexar Appraisal District from these disputes.
In other words, the community of jurors has spoken and apparently a CHODO doesn't have to provide a charitable function in order to receive a charitable exemption. The jury took little time in disposing of our case and in fact they were displeased that the burden of proof was on the plaintiff and applicant for the exemption as a matter of law. It was a unanimous verdict and we are hosting a settlement meeting with various outstanding CHODO litigants in the near future.
My reasoning for settling our remaining litigation is quite simply that the community has spoken on the matter. The jury believed that if one unit of affordable housing out of a 240 unit complex was rented to a poor person, then the CHODO is entitled to a 100% exemption. The Supreme Court has known of the split in authority throughout the state and between the various courts of appeals in Texas. I have had a case on appeal with the 4th Court since last October. They have not ruled on it and shows no sign of issuing a ruling. While the split in authority will remain for the rest of the state, we in Bexar County are going to follow the ruling issued by this Bexar County Jury.
Michael A. Amezquita
Bexar Appraisal District