Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Property Taxes: Mail It In (It's Your Only Option)

Have you heard the news that the county is switching to only written protests on property valuations? No more face-to-face meetings for the protester with a referee appointed by the county to the review the case.

The contention is that the protester loses nothing by not getting a face-to-face meeting. Decisions are made strictly on the numbers, not the sob story or the rant or whatever else occurs in the face-to-face meeting. And the new system will group protests by neighborhood and have teams of referees review them to ensure that protests are seen in the proper context, and by more than one referee. One could argue that this will be more fair to the protester.

That all may be true, but government has a duty to accommodate the citizen as much as possible in this situation. This isn’t a market situation where the consumer can go somewhere else if he doesn’t like the deal he is getting. County government is the only game in town for the payer of property taxes, and if a face-to-face meeting helps the taxpayer feel he is getting a fair shake . . .

I’m willing to try the new system, but I will be watching to see if protesters feel the new process treats them fairly. If I hear from constituents that this is just one more way that government is walling itself off from the people and insulating itself from public static, then we may have to go back to face-to-face meetings.

1 comment:

OmaSteak said...

I happened upon the broadcast of this county board meeting and I can't tell you how disappointed I am with this decision. I am very disappointed that I didn't see you Chip pressuring the Assessor to make their valuation calculations more transparent and available to property taxpayers. At least Mary Ann and Mike were hitting him about the disparities that appear to be growing between residential and commercial revaluations, etc. The Assessor's chief deputy didn't appear to be able to dazzle the Commissioners with his brilliance, so he was resorting to baffling you with statistical BS. Again, I am very disappointed with the Board's decision and your apparent unwillingness to put the Assessor squarely on the hot seat when you were presented with the opportunity.