Johnson County CAD Board extends chief appraiser’s contract before opposing electees take office
The Johnson County Central Appraisal District board extended chief appraiser Jim Hudspeth’s contract three years despite board-electees requesting a shorter extension at the board meeting Thursday
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CLEBURNE – The Johnson County Central Appraisal District board extended chief appraiser Jim Hudspeth’s contract three years despite board-electees requesting a shorter extension at the board meeting Thursday at the district’s office.
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At the meeting, board electees Amy Lingo and John Wood requested the board extend Hudspeth’s contract for a shorter period of time to allow them to do their due diligence and determine whether a longer extension is necessary.
The board chose to extend Hudspeth’s contract three years despite Lingo’s and Wood’s request after discussing it in executive session at the meeting.
Cleburne property tax-reform proponent Craig Hundley, who advocated for Lingo, Wood and fellow electee Duane Goulding before the election, believes the board awarded Hudspeth this contract to make it harder for the electees to make changes to the board when they take office, Hundley said.
The board didn’t propose the contract to spite the electees, board vice chairman Don Beeson said.
During the executive session, the board discussed whether it was necessary to offer an extension shorter than the three-year standard the board typically offers, Beeson said.
The board extends the chief appraiser’s contract three years, if the board believes he’s due an extension, in December every year the contract is expiring. Hudspeth’s contract was set to expire December 31.
The board extended Hudspeth’s contract three years, increased his pay 8% and increased his severance to 12 months from six months because the members believe he’s done a fantastic job, board chairman Toby Ford said. Beeson added that it wouldn’t have been fair to offer Hudspeth a shorter extension.
While Ford understands people are unhappy with increased property taxes, he doesn’t believe Johnson County’s property taxes are increasing because of Hudspeth’s work.
“No matter who you’ve got in there, the property taxes are going to continue to increase,” Ford said.
Vance Castles, who was one of the two board members reelected in November along with Ford, thought the electees’ suggestion was inappropriate since they haven’t been on the board and therefore don’t know what contract Hudspeth deserved, Castles said.
“It’s kind of hard to weigh in if you haven’t been in the boardroom and seen what’s gone on in the board the last two years,” Castles said.
Electee Duane Goulding doesn’t think it was appropriate for the outgoing board members to extend Hudspeth’s contract for three years before the electees have had a chance to work with him.
“It makes me uncomfortable knowing they’ve committed us as a board and committed Mr. Hudspeth to a situation we may be uncomfortable with,” Goulding said.
Because the board discussed Hudspeth’s performance and contract in executive session, Goulding questions the due diligence done in determining the contract.
The board surveys North Texas appraisal districts similar to Johnson County’s size to determine the chief appraiser’s contract.
Goulding believes the board’s research into other districts should be presented to the public and not discussed in executive session. Goulding, Lingo and Wood campaigned on increasing transparency on the board.
Goulding, Lingo and Wood will be sworn into the board at the next scheduled meeting January 18 at the district’s office in Cleburne.