Robert Rizo thought for more than four decades that his family’s home was in the city of Kyle. The family even had thousands of dollars in tax bills to prove it.
It wasn’t until Rizo filed to run this summer for Kyle City Council, however, that officials told him his home address was just outside the city limits — meaning he’s not a Kyle resident, despite the fact that he and his family have paid about $2,000 in city taxes on the land over the past five years.
“It just turned into a nightmare for me,” said the 48-year-old maintenance supervisor for a property management company. “It just isn’t fair. You’re paying taxes on something, … you’re trying to do something good, and it all falls apart. It feels like you don’t have a voice when you should have one, especially if you’re paying taxes.”
The discrepancy boils down to different city boundary lines on maps that two government agencies had on file. The Hays Central Appraisal District, which provides the property data used to calculate tax bills, had maps indicating the nearly 1-acre property was in Kyle.
The city’s maps, however, show the property at 608 S. Old Stagecoach Road is mostly outside the city limits, and the home is located on the noncity side.
Upon learning of the discrepancy, the Hays appraisal district said it would adopt Kyle’s boundary lines for next year. But it remains unclear why the maps weren’t in sync to begin with, or whether other properties might be in the same boat.
Hays County chief appraiser David Valle said that Rizo can make a claim to the appraisal review board for a refund of the city taxes paid over the years, though state law only allows such refunds going back five years. Rizo said he’s looking over his legal options.
“Man, I’ll tell you, I’m not happy,” Rizo said, adding that he believed the property was annexed by the city some time in the 1970s.
Being very involved in community service, Rizo said he felt “let down” to learn he couldn’t run for City Council this year — on top of the frustration over needlessly paid taxes.
There were never any signs that he wasn’t a resident, Rizo said. The family paid city taxes and paid for city water, he said. And Rizo had never been turned away from a city election, as he’d never tried to vote in one, according to Hays County voting records.
City Secretary Jennifer Vetrano said that in verifying Rizo’s candidacy, she looked for him on the city’s list of registered voters but couldn’t find him.
After reaching out to the Hays County Elections Office, Vetrano found that Rizo’s address was on a tract that was partly outside city limits.
“After a thorough examination and exploring all possible routes for Mr. Rizo to be placed on the ballot, it was determined that he did not meet the eligibility requirements as mandated by the city’s charter and state law,” a city statement read.
Complicating matters, the Rizo family owns homes on two adjacent parcels: one tract is within Kyle, while the other, where Robert Rizo had his address at 608 S. Old Stagecoach Road, is mostly outside the city line.
But a few years ago, Rizo said, he moved to another family home at 606 S. Old Stagecoach Road. He gave the new address when he renewed his driver’s license and updated his voter registration about two weeks before his Aug. 28 birthday.
Even though city records show 606 S. Old Stagecoach is in Kyle, he didn’t qualify for this year’s City Council race from that address because Vetrano said address changes take 30 days to go through. Rizo made the change a couple of weeks before the Aug. 21 candidate filing deadline.
Mayor Todd Webster said he hopes Rizo will get a refund of city taxes for as much as the law will allow, and that this incident won’t discourage him from running again.
“He’s a pretty genuine guy,” Webster said. “I’ve known him a long time, I consider him a friend, and my hope is that he tries to run in the future for something.”
By next year, Rizo’s new address in the city limits will be on file, and he will be able to run for City Council.
“A lot of people talk about what’s wrong with Kyle, but very few people want to step up and do something about it,” Rizo said. “This was my way of stepping up and doing my part.”