Should I Pay?


Property owners who have been reading that the assessment is void have been dismayed to find a tax bill for 2016 arriving in their mailbox. Helpfully included is a copy of the December 30th order “setting aside” the November 28th judgment plus a letter stating:

"Any ruling by the trial court remains subject to an appeal to the Fourteenth Texas Court of Appeals – the court that earlier reversed a previous ruling by the trial court. Unless and until the trial court issues a final judgment that orders a refund of any assessments, which will not occur until after all additional activities in the trial court have taken place, and after any appeal has been concluded, the District will have no obligation to refund any assessments collected."

Should you pay?!

First of all: the November 28th judgment only applies to the assessment petition for properties assessed in the former HCID11 (aka Montrose Management District West). It does not apply to HCID6 properties (aka Montrose Management District East) which had already been assessed by an earlier petition. Your Assessment Statement from Equi-tax identifies the entity to which you are paying the assessment in the upper left corner under "Make Check Payable To:" If the Payee is Montrose MD East, this judgment does not help for your property. For assessments payable to Montrose MD West, read on.

We at STOP the District cannot offer legal advice so please confer with your legal counsel as you see fit, but bear in mind the following points as you consider your position.

  • The December 30th order, even though setting aside the November 28th judgment, concludes with: "However, the Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law signed and entered on November 28, 2016 shall remain in place."

  • The Conclusion of Law No. 3 in the November 28 ruling states "The West Montrose Management District's Assessment Petition was not in compliance with state law and the total amount of the assessment is void as a matter of law".

  • Implicit in the District’s actions is the presumption that they will prevail on appeal. Without that, their assessment is “void as a matter of law”. They make no move to protect our payments if they fail. They are proceeding with collections and – we are sure – with expenditures while we wait for justice.

  • The District’s cover letter emphasizes that they will not refund any assessment until forced by the courts, so how much of your assessment dollar do you bet will be left by then for them to pay you back?

  • Many of us close to this case will not pay the assessment on property we own in MMDWest based on the judge's conclusion that the assessment is, in fact, void; that they have never had a right to collect our money; and any money we pay won’t be coming back.