In a year when rising property taxes have consumed political attention throughout the state, the Travis Central Appraisal District’s handling of local taxpayers’ assessments is consumed with controversy. Already facing possible litigation over its highly criticized purchase of multiple listing service (MLS) data about home sales, TCAD has decided it will not offer face-to-face informal hearings to any property owners this year. This is a major change from its past handling of appraisal protests, but TCAD hasn’t communicated this clearly to the public, or to the consultants who represent property owners, even as formal protest hearings began this week. Each spring, TCAD mails Travis County property owners the assessments that determine how much county residents will pay in property taxes to more than 100 jurisdictions (the county itself, Austin and 20 other cities, school districts, Austin Community College, Central Health, and numerous utility and emergency service districts). Click to read more at www.austinchronicle.com.