From Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation:
Chairman Kasemeyer and Committee Members
Here we go again?? Yesterday at the hearing on SB 215 Internet Access to Worksheets, SDAT, in the person of Director Robert E. Young, we again saw the difficulty SDAT people have in telling the whole truth.
Director Young testified that the Department opposed Internet Access to Worksheets on two grounds. One, a 40 year old law requires that these records remain private and must be protected except in the case of a taxpayer filing an appeal at which time the taxpayer upon payment of a fee can obtain copies of any comparable worksheet desired. The second
objection was that Towson University that developed and maintains SDAT’s website estimates a cost of $200,000 to implement this action with a searchable database on the Internet.
We find several “errors” in this testimony. If Mr. Young is so zealous about protecting our 2 million property worksheets how is it that said records are already in the possession of several private companies. One major source, SpecPrints (www.specprint.com/state_prc.htm) has all 24 jurisdictions available in a searchable data base for about $115.00 to $225.00 per jurisdiction. They list over 13 million records for sale?? That really protects our so-called privacy?? The raw data format can easily be made searchable with key word software at costs far less than the grossly exaggerated $200,000 figure. It is ludicrous for anyone to think that SDAT does not already have a searchable regime to access any of its 2 million properties and that said database could not be easily adapted for Internet access just as their existing “Real Property Search” database already has in place. Let us assure you that as a retired Professional Engineer and former IT Administrator for our 12 office 800 man organization, we know our programmers could adapt their system to anyone’s use in a heartbeat at far less than a $200,000 cost.
Incidentally, our information from Senator Glassman is that Towson estimated the cost of the conversion at $10,000. That’s a considerable cost discrepancy that needs to be verified by each of us.
We fail to understand why Lobbyist Craig Biggs and Director Robert Young, public servants, who should be trying to help the State and its taxpayers, continually fights to keep an outdated failing system in a status quo mode instead of trying to work with us and others to bring SDAT into the 21st century with proper technology to relieve the overstressed 158 assessors (down from 280). Mr. Young is quoted in the Sunpapers on January 20, 2012 saying his staff is incapable of making field inspections and maintaining records, causing undue delays and backlogs in the assessment appeals system and causing monumental “errors” in assessments that are costing all 24 jurisdictions millions of dollars
in tax assessment base.
Respectfully, we ask you to pass this SB 215 and also support our companion Task Force HB 881 to study the whole assessment and appeals system to improve this archaic system and its like minded staff by bringing it into line with current technology.
Roy Whiteley, Founder