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Lancaster Votes For Property Tax Re-Appraisal For Tornado Damage

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LANCASTER (CBSDFW.COM) -Tina McCray is standing in what used to be her master bedroom.  “It’s unbelievable. I come out here and I can’t believe it hit my house,” said McCray.

Not only is her bedroom gone, but so is her roof, her walls, and nearly everything she’s worked so hard for.  “This is my everything. It’s what I have put everything into. Everything.”

Her Lancaster home was hit hard by the tornadoes that plagued North Texas earlier this month.  Her home is among the dozens on her street that were severely damaged by the storms.  She returned to her house hoping to find any personal belongings that may have turned up in the rubble.

She was able to find a handful of family photos.  “This one is of my kids playing in the yard,” said McCray as she showed one off.

At 51-years-old, she’s raised 5 children and is only nine years away from paying off her home.  But now she’s worried about how the damage is going to affect her single most valuable asset.  “That’s why I purchased it years ago because I know it was going to be mine one day. I’m still paying mortgage but I’m almost done.”

Under state code, the properties struck by the tornadoes have to be reappraised.  On Monday night the Lancaster city council voted to authorize that reappraisal.  It’s good news for storm victims who will likely pay less.  But it could affect the city’s bottom line.

With all the devastation the city expects to see a decline in the values and in turn, a decline in property tax revenues.

“Over 50% of our operating budget is based on property taxes that is the single largest portion of revenue for the municipality,” said city manager Opal Mauldin-Robertson.

The city says for the past three years it has seen improvements in declining residential home values.

In 2008-2009 there was a -11.34% decline but last year, that number had strengthened to -1.74%.  City leaders had hoped this would be the year that residential numbers took a turn for the positive.  But then April 3rd happened.

Mauldin-Robertson says any loss in revenue won’t affect essential services like the fire and police departments however, capital projects like road improvements and adding street lights will likely be put on hold.

“Our optimism lies in our commercial development and commercial growth and our new subdivision growth,” said Mauldin-Robertson.

As for Tina McCray, she’s glad her family is ok and says she plans to rebuild in the same spot she’s called home for so long.

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