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Tax Bills In Public Improvement Districts Shocking New North Texas Homeowners: 'We Would Have Bought A Home Elsewhere'

ROYSE CITY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Some North Texas homeowners say they are continuing to get hit with much higher-than-expected tax bills.

"We fell in love with the homes in this community," says Karla New.

The new homeowner says Royse City seemed ideal for her and her family.

"We wanted them to be in a good school district so that's why we chose Royse City," says New.

She signed closing documents in July aware that she lived in a public improvement district (PID) and that meant some additional cost.

But after she closed, she says the more than $4,100 additional cost more than tripled.

"We found out the PID assessment was now going to be $15,000," explained New. "The difference was completely shocking."

New says she's not alone.

She says she learned another homebuyer in her development was also told it was about $4,100 but later learned she owed $15,000.

"We would have bought a home elsewhere if we had known this upfront and we knew nothing about it," says New.

Neighborhood in Royse City
Neighborhood in Royse City (credit: CBS 11 News)

Those homeowners said they saw the CBS 11  I-Team investigation from March 2020 about a similar issue in different development.

New North Texas Homeowners Hit With Unexpected Tax: 'We Would Not Be Living Here'

"I opened up the tax bill, looked at it and thought why is it so much more than what we thought it was going to be," Diane Owen told the I-Team in March. "I got probably over 75 homeowners in our complex that didn't know anything about the PID."

Homebuyers at another DR Horton development in Denton told the I-Team no one ever told them there were moving into a PID and what it would cost.

A PID allows a city or county to charge a builder to develop roads, water, sewage, sidewalks, etc.

A builder can pass that cost on to buyers and you'll see it on your taxes.

The nearly 100 homeowners in Denton were filing complaints stating that "Each (house) was assessed nearly $31,000 for the PID," according to complaints filed.

It's an amount many said they would have paid in full, upfront, at closing if they had known about it.

They told the I-Team the interest was going to cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

"Seventy-six-thousand dollars," said homeowner Vanessa Fillingim in March. She says if she had known, "(they) would not be living here today."

Attorney Rachel Khirallah represented the homebuyers when the I-Team talked to them in March.

"I think it's probably happening all over Texas. I think as public improvement districts start to become more popular and more widely used it, it will continue to happen," says Khirallah.

Six months later she tells the I-Team, "I still agree. I don't believe this is an isolated event."

Today, Khirallah says those cases are moving slowly. "I really thought our lawsuit would have curbed what was happening but for whatever reason it's not."

Again, her clients from Denton say the homebuilder did not tell them about the PID.

The homebuyers who reached out to the I-Team from Royse City say they were told, but after they signed on the dotted line, the amount more than tripled what their closing documents stated.

"If the number one builder in America can't get it straight, can't figure out how to inform people properly about these PIDS then how can anyone expect a homeowner to do it?" questions Khirallah.

New says she wants DR Horton to step in and do what she considers is the right thing.

"I would appreciate them paying the difference in what is in our contact and what is being asked of us to pay now."

And apparently, in at least in one case that has happened.

The I-Team interviewed another homebuyer for this story who later called and asked us not to air her interview.

She says DR Horton contacted her and asked her to retract her story.

She says they told her they could then come to an agreement.

The CBS 11 I-Team repeatedly tried to talk to DR Horton to discuss this but no one has responded.

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