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North Texas Property Tax Values Drop & Nightly Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – 2010 property tax rolls are being certified by Appraisal Districts across the state, ahead of Sunday's deadline. In Dallas and Tarrant counties, property values are down, leaving cities and school districts struggling to balance their budgets with less property tax revenue.

Property values in Tarrant County are down for the first time since 1992. Jeff Law is Tarrant County's Chief Appraiser.

Law: For 2010 Tarrant County appraisals are down about four percent. Last year was about even. I think there was less than a 1% increase. So this year would be a decrease from last year.

Only two Tarrant County cities showed an increase: Pelican Bay and Westover Hills.

In Dallas County, Cockrell Hill, Hutchins, Sachse and Sunnyvale saw property value increases. 22 cities saw declines.

Denton County property values dropped 2.4%.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission met in Houston

Commissioners reviewed the progress of their investigation into a Corsicana arson case. It resulted in the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham in 2004. His three daughters were killed in the fire. Willingham maintained his innocence.

The group agreed to review Willingham's case after a 2006 Innocence Project concluded the fire was not arson. A report prepared last year for the commission faulted the investigation that led to Willingham's conviction.

Governor Perry was criticized last year for replacing commissioner members and delaying the investigation.

Board adopts charter facilities investment plan

The State Board of Education has adopted a proposal to dedicate public school endowment dollars to finance charter school facilities. The proposal is contingent on a legal opinion from the Texas attorney general.

The 7-6 vote Friday was to invest as much as $100 million of the $23 billion Permanent School Fund into developing and leasing Texas charter schools. Chairwoman Gail Lowe agreed to seek an opinion on the proposal's legality from the Texas attorney general.

Board member David Bradley has pushed the measure for the past two years.

The Permanent School Fund is an endowment created in 1876 to benefit Texas public schools.

The board's investment adviser, Rhett Humphreys, says estimating the risk for a charter school investment is "very tricky business."

Texas lags behind in "college degrees."

A College Board study shows only 27 percent of Texans, 25 to 34, have college degrees. That's far below the 41 percent national average.

Texas is 40th in the U.S. for college degrees. Washington DC has the highest number. Arkansas, the lowest.