The following letter was sent by H. LeRoy Whiteley, Jr., president of Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation, to Harford County Executive David Craig and his chief of staff Aaron Tomarchio, all seven members of the Harford County Council, and every member of Harford County’s delegation to the Maryland General Assembly except for Del. Glen Glass. A copy was provided to The Dagger:
Hello Executive Craig and Mr. Tomarchio
We have just received an anonymous letter regarding one of our favorite issues — SDAT. We usually do not pay attention to people who do not have the courage of their convictions and fail to identify themselves — BUT this item may have some credibility given its message.
The writer of the letter (probably a disgruntled employee of Harford Department of Assessments that has some feeling toward the way property taxpayers are treated) states that the current supervisor (Don Beynon) will retire at the end of February. The letter also states that SDAT Director John Sullivan will attempt to appoint Nancy Schmidbauer,current assistant supervisor, to this position. The letter further states “Mrs. Schmidbauer has no college education and spent most of her time with the assessment dept. as a file clerk with the Baltimore County office. Her only qualification for this post is her personal relationship with Mr. Sullivan, and her willingness to reduce the assessments of Mr. Sullivan’s cronies.” The letter writer also states that “the last time this position was filled there was a secret recruitment for candidates.”
Several things bother us about this possible scenario. We have experienced first hand the Peter principle where through longevity, people being in the right place at the right time rise to the level of their incompetence. We have seen this same scenario played out in another county where the long time clerk has been appointed to the supervisor’s position. That lady does not know the first thing about assessments or the process. Her only involvement in cases in the county is as a silent witness. Any questionable problem she encounters she refers to the Assistant Attorney General who responds for her. We have repeated first hand experience with her incompetence.
We need a supervisor who is well qualified and not under the thumb of John Sullivan. Somebody who will execute his or her duties with a proper education and eye toward reform of a system that is biased, unfair, inequitable, and totally out of touch with current market conditions.
We don’t have all of the details of the official qualifications for the supervisor’s position. However, we do have those of an assessor. A supervisory position should be more stringent. The minimum educational requirements for an assessor are: a bacholers degree, no experience, and the note “Additional appraisal experience involving the valuation of real property may be submitted on a year-for-year basis for the required education.” This latter item is the one we are sure will be used to advance Mrs. Schmidbauer’s possible appointment.
We have seen Mrs. Schmidbauer in action numerous times as she has battled us at all three levels of the appeals process. We question her ability and judgement since many of her so-called comparables just are not. She follows the party line of giving the taxpayer nothing, particularly this one with a target on his back. Her curriculum vita states she is a grad of Mercy High School in 1976. No college degree is listed. She does however have a license as a State Residential Appraiser since 2001 # 27362. This later qualification is one we have advocated that ALL assessors should have. SDAT has fought us tooth and nail on the need for this experience citing “they do not provide appraisals” BUT every document they turn into the PTAAB or Tax Court is labelled “PROPERTY APPRAISAL”. Barry Glassman introduced legislation to require those credentials and SDAT fought it successfully, even bringing in a lobbyist to testify against us. In the first reduction of assessments statewide in 2009 where the statewide reduction averaged about 19.7% ,Harford only received an average of about 12%. Most of those reassessed in our neighborhood received substantially less. Mrs. Schmidbauer received over 14.4% on her property!!!!
As we read the SDAT law Section 2-105 the Director of SDAT (John Sullivan) appoints the supervisor for each county or Baltimore City FROM “a list of 5 qualified individuals submitted to the Director by the appropriate county official”. Appropriate county official is defined as ” the Mayor of Baltimore City, the county commissioners or county council of each county or if the county charter provides for a county executive, the county executive with the approval of the county council.”
We hope you and the Council will provide us with a number of candidates with exemplary credentials who can do the job effectively with both the State and County taxpayers interests properly served.
Thank You. Roy Whiteley
Joan Ryder says
Roy has a good point!
Bull Moose says
Really Dagger? Don’t you have any standards anymore? Anything that starts with “We have just received an anonymous letter…” should send alarm bells off with someone.
Sounds to me like somebody wants that job and is willing to trash anybody who they see as a competitor.
Me thinks Bull Moose doth protest too much
Could Bull Moose be one of those interested in that position?
It reminds me of one of my favorite songs from Sly Stone: “It’s a family affair”
First of all a few of the guys who started these taxpayer protest groups are disgruntled former employees of SDAT who wouldnt listen to Gene Burner when he ran the department. Second of all, when the dept took over the county assessment offices in 1974 one of the requirements was that the counties still got to have a say in who would be supervisor. This required the department to go along with not requiring a bachelor’s degree for the position so farmer John from some county who knew everyone there could still put in for the position, maybe even a farmer John from a taxpayer’s protest group. Third, the private appraiser’s license that Mrs. Schmidbauer has isnt easy to get. Some assessors have it and some just the bachelor’s degree. Some have both. So Mrs. Schmidbauer has her license and has been doing appraisals in Harford, but yet she doesnt qualify because she didnt lower the assessment of a taxpayer’s protest group member enough? This is in spite of the fact that anyone has a right to take their assessment to Ptaab and Tax Court beyond the first appeal level? And in addition to all of this, the letter was probably written by someone who wants the job themselves? Now hear this. First of all, I hope those on the list for supervisor for the county will also have their appraiser licenses. I doubt that all of them will. Second of all, SDAT could make someone’s asseessment five dollars and twenty nine cents, and the county will just raise the tax rates accordingly. So why should someone follow the antics of the farmer John’s in these protest groups when it wont make any difference in how much taxes anyone pays? Why dont they spend their time telling the county how the budget needs to be reduced and how potholes cant be fixed and how teachers need to be laid off and how new schools cant be built and policemen hired? It would seem a little more productive in reaching their goal of lower taxes, but maybe they dont want to hear people yelling back at them. In addition, they wouldnt be getting back at SDAT.
Bill, I think that you inadvertently made Mr. Whitely’s point for him. Farmer John should not be allowed to be Supervisor of Assessments, because he doesn’t have the education or work experience to do the job.
The fact that he “knows everybody” should be an additional reason to disqualify him from the position. That is what leads to inequitable treatment of property owners by the assessment office.
This has long been a problem with SDAT. People in influential positions giving special treatment to politicians and business people to protect the publicly funded positions of their ne’er do well offspring.
Harford County needs a Supervisor of Assessments who will act independently, and in an equitable fashion for all property owners; not just the influential and powerful.
Well then perhaps the counties shouldnt have a say in who gets the job. There isnt any other department that I know of where a county gets to have a say in who gets a state job. As it is now, the county puts 6 names on a list. The department then picks from these six names. It can request another list if it wants. The bottom line is, the department decides who gets the job. The whole process of the county having a say just makes it worse. They can put someone on the list who has no appraisal experience at all. The department doesnt want to pick them, but if the governor says he wants his cousin in a job he can essentially tell the department that is who he wants, and put pressure on the department to do it. The whole process needs to be revamped by getting rid of the county having anything to do with this state job. Then the requirements should be a bachelors degree and so many years of appraisal experience. The job can be open to anyone, and the department picks from all applicants, in their department or others not currently in the department. This would be the fairest way to do it. Management experience could be considered also.
Bill, I believe the counties have a say in who is appointed to lead the Social Services and Health Depts. I remember then Mayor O’Mally and Governor Ehrlich clashing over the Baltimore City Social Services Director’s job.
I would go a step further than you, and abolish the position altogether. It is a relic of the past.
The problem with allowing SDAT to have the sole say in selecting the Supervisor is that sometimes you have people in office who intertwine their personal and professional lives. The result is that the selection breaks down to the personal whim of the person in charge of hiring.
You are getting on the right track.
Good old boy says
We win. Craig sent over 5 names – the council rejected them so my good friend Johnncan get his way. Wonder how this happened. Hockaday?
Well, Mr. Whiteley is indeed a true prophet.
Someone needs to look at the role that Councilman Shrodes played in this escapade. His family has long been associated with the Sullivans.
As for his complaint that the office is understaffed, he forgets to mention that Mr. Sullivan and his stooges forced six experienced people into retirement in order to facilitate his plans. One of whom was the person Mrs. Schmidbauer replaced.
Mr. Shrodes also probably did not mention that his sister-in-law is employed at the Assessment office as an Assessor
(a promotion orchestrated by Mr. Sullivan). Could she be in line for another promotion this time around?
The last thing we need is for this position to be filled by a current employee of SDAT. The Assessment office is a poorly run, dysfunctional office, that needs outside intervention to shake things up.
I guess we will have a continuation of the Sullivan tradition of catering to the wealthy and politically connected, while treating the average citizen with contempt and condescension.
Wrong Mort. Mr Sullivan didnt force anyone into retirement. The people who left did so because they were considering retiring anyway and the state offered a buyout. They also left because most of the assessment offices, including Harford, are understaffed and the state wont allow new employees to be hired, even though the counties and state are losing money because there isnt enough staff to review the field properly in cases where no permits are taken out, leading to decks, additions and remodeling to go without being placed on the rolls in many cases. The counties and state are losing more money than it would cost to replace some asssessors, but you cant tell them that because they dont want to spend any money in any case. Only employees transferring from other counties can come in to help. So if you want to see these offices run more properly then encourage the state to do something about it, and Mr Sullivan cant change that situation. And so the county has a say in who gets on a list for the job and yet the county doesnt pay any of the salary of anyone in the office? That is why I posted what I posted above.
Mr. Green Beans says
This whole situation reeks from both sides.
Morty and Good Old Boy have hit the nail on the head.
My main question is: Where was Mr. Whiteley when this was all going on? Are you asleep at the switch?
As for Bill, I think it is admirable that you continue to do Mr. Sullivan’s dirty work for him, even in retirement.
You have no idea of what really went on at SDAT, because you spent most of your time with your head buried in Mr. Sullivan’s rear end.
I can guarantee you that no fuss would have been made about this if Mr. Sullivan’s preferred choice had been on the list submitted by David Craig.
Mr. Craig deserves our scorn because he waited until the last minute to “recruit” for this position.
Mr. Green Beans has a couple of good stories he could share with everyone about the illustrious Mr. Sullivan. If he gets the urge and time to do so, he will.
Well Mr Beans, I have never worked with Mr Sullivan and I am not retired. If you want to spread stories about someone it means that you wanted some special favoritism yourself at some point and must have been turned down for it. Otherwise, why do you care anyway? Get the state to properly staff offices and there will be a lot less problems. The county assessment office is a state agency that the county has no business in saying who runs it, given that they could want someone who has a high school diploma in the job with no appraisal experience, whereas any assessor must have a bachelor’s degree or a private appraiser’s license or both. Why should their supervisor possibly not have either? It is like Obama heading a Christian nation as a Muslim.
Mr. Green Beans: It sounds as if you have touched a nerve.
I think that you are right in saying that there is blame to go around on all sides.
That still doesn’t make it right for Councilman Shrodes to have voted on this issue, let alone lead the charge. He either has ethical deficiencies, or he is just not too bright.
The county does have a right to say who runs that office, because it is written into the statute. The same applies to the Social Services Dept.
I for one hope that Mr. Green Beans will further enlighten us on the operations of the State Assessment Department.
I also find “Bill’s” comments about Mr. Obama to be rather offensive. To paraphrase Bill, Why do you care so much about Mr. Obama’s supposed religious preferences.
All I can say to the property owners of Harford County is this: Appeal your assessment every year (you can), because the State Department of Assessments is the most dysfunctional agency in State Government. The property worksheets are loaded with errors, and they don’t have anyone left who knows what they are doing.
Well Mort, from what I understand, the statute reads that the director of the department can ask for another list if he is given one from the county that he doesnt like. After being given another one, he can just appoint who he (or she) wants anyway if he doesnt like that one. So now back to my main point. What is the point of the county being able to suggest who should get the job? It is ultimately up to the director of the department no matter what. The only thing that having the county have a say in it leads to is more political influence. If someone in county government wants someone they know on the list then they can try to see that the person gets on the list. Isnt that unfairness what you are complaining about to begin with? If it is up to the director no matter what then why not just let him make the appointment to begin with? Any director of any department can be accused of being unfair in an appointment. If you were a director of a department, would you appoint someone you didnt like? As far as you protesting your assessment each year, why do you do it if you already have and had any mistakes corrrected? Isnt that just making trouble and causing the taxpayers to pay more for your protests? Now my final point. I said what I said about Mr Obama because I am a Christian. I am offended by this president going to the Mideast for another speech to the Muslim world, to placate them in his support this fall in the U.N. of a Palestinian state. What he wants to support is the division of Israel. What the bible says is that those who offend Israel will be punished, and that includes the U.S. We certainly havent had the best weather lately, and it will probably continue. Our economy has been going downhill also. I support Mike Evans. He is to address congress soon on why Mr. Obama’s position is wrong and why it is hurting our country. I hope our politicians like congress, and our pretend politicians like yourself, listen to what he has to say. According to the bible, a war will happen that will destroy a third of mankind. After that, a ruler will arise in Israel who will offer peace with the Muslims and everyone. A new temple will be built there. Eventually this ruler will stand in that temple and declare himself to be God, requiring a mark on our bodies to buy and sell. At that point, Christ will return in three and a half years. Maybe there isnt much we can do about what will happen, but honestly Mort, dont make it worse than it already is. That is why I care about Mr. Obama’s religious preferences.
Bill, Thank you for informing those of us who are of different faiths, that we are living in the wrong country.
As long as you are quoting statutes, please let know about the one that says the United States is a Christian nation. I don’t remember learning that one.
I am not a fan of Mr. Obama’s politics, but he deserves respect as a fellow human being.
You remind me of a County official we had years ago who drove around with Sons of The Confederacy tags on his vehicle. I think hes was told not to drive that vehicle on County business.
You really need to lighten up a little. I would recommend that you make a trip to the drugstore and look for a box with the name Fleet on it. It will ease and soothe your mind.
Did anyone notice Mr. Shrodes’ wife was recently appointed to a library position? How about a family tree to track the family members employed by Harford County. In the school system, we have an energy position filled by as Cassilly…..I bet he doesn’t have an engineering degree or experience. He does have the right last name in Harford County. Welcome to Harford County politics.
Your kidding. After Chad Shrodes voted to hire Hastler – Hastler hired Shrodes’ wife. That would never happen in Harford County. No one would make a deal like that here…
Carol, are you saying that the two individuals you referenced are not qualified for their positions, and got their jobs because of their last name? Do you know of someone who applied for those two jobs who was more qualified and was not offered the job?
Unlike you, I don’t think someone should be automatically excluded from consideration for a job that they are otherwise qualified for just because they have the same last name as a prominent person in the community.
No one said anything about being a confederate or disliking blacks. There are many blacks who are Christians who dont like Obama. I believe his speech is today? The world is full of unGodly attitudes that we need to keep our kids and families aware of. The atheistic view says that God doesnt exist. The humanistic view says that we need to get rid of God, that we dont need Him and that Christians are prejudiced people who are full of hate and dont know what they are doing. Dont believe it, and it is important not to let our children believe it. If the president is giving a speech in support of Muslims, he is giving a speech against Christianity, and I disagree with it. That is being very respectful to him as a fellow human being.
Bill: You win. I’m throwing in the towel. Reading your posts just gives me a headache.
Life is too short to waste my time arguing with you. I can’t say that your views are too extreme, because I can’t make sense out of them.
I wish you peace, prosperity, and good health.
Harford Countians: You need to pay more attention to what your government is doing, regardless of your political affiliation.
Mort, it seems to me like you are avoiding ths issue. Why, for one, do you keep protesting your assessment each year and tell others to do the same if mistakes have been corrected? God’s message is a very simple one. It isnt difficult to understand. Have a good one.
Morty has noticed something interesting.
The individual “Bill”, who has made a few posts on this subject (and who says he is not retired), seems to spend much of the normal workday doing so.
His professed knowledge and passionate defense of SDAT could lead one to wonder if he might be an employee of SDAT.
If this were to be true, it would certainly give credence to those groups and individuals who are critical of the performance of the State Assessment Department.
It is an interesting question. Maybe if we look to the east we will find the answer.
Well Mort the most obvious thing to me is that there are several grouchy old codgers here not getting anything who have a lot less to do than I do. They have the time to give a thumbs down over and again to a comment about Christ but they dont have the time to be very constructive in offering positive alternatives. What they didnt intend is that when people see a comment hidden due to low ratings, it becomes more of a witness for Him because people want to read what was hidden. Another thing is that the assessment office could make every house in the county valued at 1000 dollars average, and the counties will raise the tax rates accordingly so we all pay the same year to year, which is essentially what is happening. The counties have laughed when people listen to someone telling them to go yell at the assessment office. Now with lower assessments and the same property taxes, people are starting to realize where the problem lies. Many here have definitely not helped the situation.