The Sutton County Appraisal District Board of Directors met Monday, September 14th with plenty of community members and representatives of governmental jurisdictions in attendance. Several people voiced concerns about the appraisal district office not being open and available to the public. Others were concerned about the work product coming out of the office.

Business owners and ranchers were looking for explanations on how ag exemptions are determined. According to Chief Appraiser Mary Bustamante, as long as an individual can furnish proof, including photos, and meet the standards set by the Comptroller’s Office they can receive the exemption.

Representatives from Sutton County Hospital District, Sonora ISD, and Sutton County were in attendance and were all questioning why their deposits and statements are being received late.

Board member Carla Garner said that there were circumstances that came up that caused a delay, but assured everyone in attendance that it would not happen again. Mickey Schaefer, Chief Financial Officer at the hospital district stated that this is not the first time it has happened.

It was noted that Bustamante was previously the only one who could issue checks, but after some changes, other employees in the office now have the means to also issue checks, if necessary.

Steve Smith, Chief Executive Officer, at the hospital said there have also been miscalculations on paperwork and suggested that they should be looked over for accuracy before being sent out.

Questions arose of the offices availability and the lack of communication with the public. The office was closed more than usual due to the pandemic and therefore the lack of availability has also been a problem.

It was noted that the community does not know how or when to make contact with the appraisal district office. Sometimes the doors are locked in the middle of the day, it was said, with no notice as to when the office will reopen. Some said that it felt like a wall was put up and they asked for more transparency, whether it be instant notification via website or notices posted in more than one location.

County Judge Rachel Duran asked Bustamante what the plans are for having the office moved back to the annex. She said she heard rumors of dates but nothing from the source. Bustamante said she is looking to move back in October or November.

One attendee noted that communication and knowledge are key, but there is no way to know when the appraisal board is meeting. They were told to submit questions, concerns or complaints in a letter or email so that it can be presented to the board at their next meeting. The board meets quarterly, but not on a regular schedule. Special meetings are held as needed. Agendas are posted in the courthouse 72 hours in advance of meetings.