Developing a Website and
Electronic Filing System
Internet use by age group
Top 5 activities users age 33+
Get health info
Buy something online
Visit government sites
Get religious info
IAAO Standard on Public Relations
“A public relations program in the assessment profession
provides current and useful information on assessment
policies and practices, as well as a means of responding to
public opinion. A proactive public relations program is
essential to public awareness of the assessment process and of
the importance of the property tax in funding local
government services. A public relations program should be an
integral part of every assessment office‟s work. A public
relations program describes what the office does as well as
how, why, and for whom its services are performed. An
effective public relations program results in more accurate
and thorough coverage from the media and a better-informed
IAAO Standard on Public Relations
“In addition to more traditional communication
methods, the Internet is an effective way of
informing the public. Relevant assessment and
property tax information should be available on the
Web. Assessing officers must research, plan, and
implement ways to deliver information on the
Internet. Assessment agency Web sites should be
content-driven, so information can be quickly
accessed, retrieved, and reviewed.”
Create a favorable image
The website is one area where an
appraisal district can control and
create a positive and favorable image
of the appraisal district.
You can communicate with the public
to inform and influence them that the
job we are performing is fair and we
are responding to the market and
complying with state statues and
standard appraisal practices.
Overcoming misconceptions and
There are many misconceptions
and prejudices against the
A website provides an
appraisal district the
opportunity to overcome the
common misconceptions .
The most important force
affecting organizations and
government today is the
opinion of people.
The value of goodwill is most
evident when absent.
Promotion of product or service
In the case of appraisal districts we provide a
service to the public.
The website is an opportunity to promote the
service that we provide and the good quality
of the work done by the staff.
We can become the expert in the industry and
build up credibility.
Detecting and dealing with issues and
The website can be used to get
ahead of the issues.
If values are increasing in your
district and you anticipate a
thrashing in the newspaper, use
your website to provide
information that explains to the
taxpayers why values are
Education of the public
Appraisals and the functions of our
office are difficult.
A website provides an opportunity to
make technical terms and procedures
The website is also a facilitating resource
for the taxpayer on questions they may
have in regards to property information,
applications and procedures that directly
Government transparency and openness are
fundamental to American democracy. In Texas,
the Public Information Act is one of the primary
mechanisms by which members of the public
hold their government accountable.
The preamble of the act describes the legislative
intent “ The people, in delegating authority, do
not give their public servants the right to decide
what is good for the people to know and what is
not good for them to know. The people insist on
remaining informed so that they may retain
control over the instruments they have created.”
There are numerous sections of the tax code that
now deal directly with websites.
While is has not yet been mandated that each CAD
provide a website; the legislature has made obvious
an intent to encourage the use of websites for
11.1825(r) – Display low income capitalization rate
11.423 (a) – allows use of TDHAC website for mobile
41.415 – Electronic filing of protests
Establishing a website is a proactive
customer service approach for both
small and large appraisal districts.
Instead of waiting for consumers to
visit with questions, appraisal
districts anticipate the questions and
answer them via websites.
It also means savings, because
website hosting fees are often lower
than staffing a customer service
How Do I Start ?
Basic Questions Answered
What is the Internet
Most simply, the Internet is
a collection of computers
that are able to
communicate with each
They are typically
connected via phone lines,
cables, digital satellite
signals, and other types of
data transfer mechanisms.
Where do the websites live?
Websites are physically saved on computers called
“servers” because the „serve‟ up the websites they
have saved on their hard disks on demand.
Basically, the server computer has a bunch of
websites loaded on it and it just waits for people (via
web browser such as internet explorer) to request or
ask for a particular page. When the browser requests
a page the server sends it out.
Servers are usually run by web hosts, but can also be
run by individuals or companies.
How does a website get an official
Computers speak to each other in
numbers but for us mere humans the
numbers are hard to remember.
It is much easier to remember
www.window.state.tx.us than it is to
You must register a domain to get your
official address for your web site on the
World Wide Web. With this “Official”
address, the rest of the web can find
What is domain registration?
Domain registration is the process by which a
company or individual can secure a website domain.
Once you have completed domain registration the
domain becomes yours for the period of the
contract., usually one year can be for as much as ten
Before the registration expires it must be renewed, or
the domain reverts back to being available to the
How do I register my domain?
Domain registration is available
to the public via a registrar.
Fees and services vary from
company to company but the
process is generally inexpensive
(under $10 per year).
Before a domain registration can
be approved, the new name must
be checked against existing
names in the DNS database.
What is a web host?
A web host is a service provider that
stores your website on a server and
allows your website to be seen by
anyone who has an internet connection
and a browser.
Hosting your own website is always an
option; however, there are several
important and costly points to consider:
How do I chose a web host?
Free or Paid
Host Server Type
Server side language
How to Design a Website
Set your Goal
Decide the overall objective of your website.
Knowing your goals will impact the choices you
make when putting the web site together and
ultimately contribute to its success or failure
Identify and focus on your target market
Write your content
Decide what content your website is going to
Content should be tightly focused on your goals
and target market.
Use strong headlines
Keep your language simple, be clear and concise.
Develop a structure
Plan how the web page will fit together.
Decide how content will be divided up.
Group the pages according to theme
Create a hierarchy
Sketch how the pages fit together in an
Nothing special is really needed, just a
series of boxes representing each page
in the site with lines
Create a design
Keep in mind your goal and target
Determine where page elements such as
navigation links are best placed (such as
Left side navigation or top navigation).
Also consider the use of white space
Consider the significance of different
Determine which fonts to use. Not all fonts
work on all computers.
Code your website
Do you need a web designer?
If you choose to engage a web designer the cost can range greatly depending
on your requirements.
The more extensive and elaborate the website the higher the cost. Expect to
spend approximately $500 for a basic site
Reasons to do it yourself?
Free or very low cost
No communication divide between you and a designer
Learning HTML is easy
You can also contact local resources such as libraries and community
colleges to see what assistance they may have available
Publish your website
Choose Domain Name
Domain Name Availability
Select web host
Upload your files
Electronic Filing of Notice of Protest
Who must comply
This section applies appraisal districts
established for a county having a population
of 500,000 or more. – January 2010
All appraisals districts with an Internet
website accessible to the public - January
If the population is 250,000 or less the deadline
to comply is January 2013
The appraisal district shall implement a system that allows the owner of a
property that for the current tax year has been granted a residence
homestead exemption under Section 11.13, in connection with the
property, to electronically:
file a notice of protest under Section 41.41(a)(1) or (2) with the appraisal
receive and review comparable sales data and other evidence that the chief
appraiser intends to use at the protest hearing before the board
receive, as applicable:
a settlement offer from the district to correct the appraisal records by changing
the market value and, if applicable, the appraised value of the property to the
value as redetermined by the district; or
a notice from the district that a settlement offer will not be made; and
accept or reject a settlement offer received from the appraisal district under
With each notice sent under Section 25.19 to an eligible
property owner, the chief appraiser shall include information
about the system required by this section, including
instructions for accessing and using the system.
A notice of protest filed electronically under this section
must include, at a minimum:
a statement as to whether the protest is brought under Section
41.41(a)(1) or under Section 41.41(a)(2);
a statement of the property owner‟s good faith estimate of the value
of the property; and
an electronic mail address that the district may use to communicate
electronically with the property owner in connection with the protest.
If the property owner accepts a settlement offer
made by the appraisal district, the chief appraiser
shall enter the settlement in the appraisal records as
an agreement made under Section 1.111(e).
If the property owner rejects a settlement offer, the
appraisal review board shall hear and determine the
property owner‟s protest in the manner otherwise
provided by this subchapter and Subchapter D.
An appraisal district is not required to make
the system required by this section available
to an owner of a residence homestead located
in an area in which the chief appraiser
determines that the factors affecting the
market value of real property are unusually
complex or to an owner who has designated
an agent to represent the owner in a protest as
provided by Section 1.111
An electronic mail address provided by a
property owner to an appraisal district under
Subsection (d)(3) is confidential and may not
be disclosed by the district
Implementing a system
Most CAMA software vendors have
developed systems to assist appraisal districts
in the implementation of Electronic Filing of
The samples below is one example of the
Implementing a system
What you will need…
Website and Email user agreements
“Section 41.415(g) – An appraisal district is not required to make the
system required by this section available to an owner of a residence
homestead located in an area which the Chief Appraiser determines the
factors affecting the market value of real property are unusually complex
or to an owner who has designated an agent to represent the owner in a
protest as provided by Section 1.111”
Travis CAD Sample
In determining the properties which would be eligible for an electronic
protest the Chief Appraiser considered many factors that create complexity in
a market valuation. He considered the overall property value, the sample size
of sales and properties in a neighborhood and its homogeneity. After much
consideration and analysis, the Chief Appraiser determined that the following
thresholds be used in determining the properties that would be eligible for
electronic protests this year
Determining Eligible Accounts
Considered the market value of a property. Higher valued properties are
typically more complex to value than lower valued properties. The Chief
Appraiser considered the average homestead value in Travis County of
$279,763 when he set the value threshold of eligible properties at
$300,000 or less.
Also considered the size of the neighborhood and the number of
sales. The smaller the sample size, the more difficult the properties are to
appraise. The Chief Appraiser set the sample size of neighborhoods with
at least 100 properties and at least 5 sales for aid in comparable
Finally considered the homogeneity of the neighborhoods, meaning how
similar are the properties within the neighborhood in condition, year built,
size, quality, land values and location. A statistical measure of
Coefficient of Determination (COD) was used to determine the
What evidence is to be included in the
Do you want automated evidence or should
each evidence packet be reviewed by an
Do you want to automate offers or should all
offers be reviewed by an appraiser?
If automated, what are the criteria?
If manual, who will be responsible?
Will you offer informals to the electronic
When will you schedule the formal hearing?
How many staff do you need?
Who is responsible for what?
What will trigger an email?
Will you respond to emails?
Train your customer service staff on what the
taxpayer will see!!
Taxpayer changes their mind.
Taxpayer missed deadlines.
Impact of electronic filing
Most metro appraisal districts implementing
the system for the first time in 2010 saw
minimal taxpayer participation.
Travis CAD – approx 35,000 eligible, 376
Collin CAD – approx 35,000 eligible, 350
Bexar CAD – approx 15,000 eligible, 70 protests
Free CSS Editor:
Free CSS Toolbox: CSS Validator, CSS Formatter, CSS Compressor
Free Image Editor:
The Gimp: Image Editor and Manipulator
Paint.NET: Image Editor and Manipulator
HTML Goodies: Good Place to learn HTML
HTML.net: Good Tutorials for HTML and CSS
SitePoint.com: General Programming Site and Community
IPL.org: Has a Tutorial That a Kid can Follow
Marya Crigler, Travis CAD
David Martinez, El Paso CAD
A website template is provided on CD and is available for
This software is provided by the copyright holders and contributors
AS IS. No warranties expressed or implied, are given. They have
been offered in good faith and any consequential damage due to their
use is the sole responsibility of the user accessing the system in
question and operating the software on it. In no event shall the
copyright owner or contributors be liable for any direct, indirect,
incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages (including,
but not limited to, procurement of substitute goods or services; loss of
use, data, or profits; or business interruption) however caused and on
any theory of liability, whether in contract, strict liability, or tort
(including negligence or otherwise) arising in any way out of the use
of the software, even if advised of the possibility of such damage