From Roy Whiteley, Founder, Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation:
Recently we heard House Speaker Michael Busch, who with Senate President Michael Miller and each committee chair, run the largest dictatorships within the General Assembly, implore his fellow members to exercise “true democracy” in dealing with his proposed gun control legislation. We have expressed the same request yearly for the past ten years as we have tried to get our task force bill to study the HB 888 Property Tax Assessment and Appeals Reform bill, the HB 235 Internet Access to Worksheets bill and our Right to Record Appeals Hearings bill out of committee and on to the floor where they could be acted upon by ALL those legislators we elect. We ask the same of ALL legislation offered. Every bill should have a public hearing before a committee whose charge should simply be to ascertain three basic questions
1. Does the bill have merit?
2. Is the bill constitutional?
3. Can the bill be amended to improve it? Given a positive response to these questions the bill should be passed on to the floor for action by ALL those we elect to do our bidding? But as we all know this is not the way Annapolis works.
Very soon we expect to see the above mentioned bills introduced to proceed through the hearing process where said dictatorships predetermine the fate of each bill. Democracy does not exist. The most important bill to us is the task force bill to study an assessment system that is archaic, biased, convoluted, corrupt, inaccurate, incomprehensible, inequitable, non-uniform, subjective, unfair, and not in concert with current fair market values.
Attached are two documents which should make you think about how our over 2 million properties are being valued and taxed. We ask all General Assembly members, the heads of each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, a number of media outlets who have all received hard bound copies of these documents and now you with this electronic copy — Isn’t there enough evidence here to warrant concern and a study of this obviously broken system?
A few of the more egregious conditions found within this documents include:
Present construction cost based assessment system in place basically since 1977 inception.
Assessment system updated without public input or methodology change.
Assessor staff down from 280 to 158.
Assessor staff unable to make physical inspections, or update market value data base and indices.
Assessor staff competency questionable with no mandatory continuing education required.
Assessor staff education and skills less than Licensed Real Estate Appraisers taxpayers often forced to hire to challenge inaccurate and unfair assessments.
Large percentage of assessments incorrect due to lack of up-to-date record keeping.
Millions of potential assessable tax base dollars lost and unaccounted for.
Triennial assessments assure at least 2/3 of 2 million taxpayers’ assessments at least 2 years out of date.
Property assessment worksheets unavailable to taxpayers on line BUT SDAT website promotes private firm, SpecPrint, who purchased said worksheet records and profits by resale negating privacy concerns touted by SDAT Director.
Assessment system based on construction cost BUT can only be taxpayer challenged based on fair market value sales.
Assessor hearings waste of time, primarily fishing expedition with little accomplished.
Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board (PTAAB) and assessment offices housed and staffed together eliminating any separation of function or separation from possible collusion.
PTAAB staffed with politically connected citizens with questionable property value knowledge.
PTAAB staff qualifications unknown to taxpayers.
Tax Court inconvenient, time consuming, unfair to taxpayer who must prove State wrong rather than each side proving their case.
IF any of the cited material registers with you in any fashion that even vaguely suggests that property assessment and appeals procedures need reform, then please take the time to let your friends, neighbors, local governing body and your General Assembly representatives know we need a study to develop reforms that will guarantee fair and equitable property tax assessments.
WATCH FOR OUR NOTICES OF PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THESE BILLS AND SUPPORT THEIR PASSAGE WITH YOUR LETTERS, E-MAILS AND HEARING ATTENDANCE.
THANK YOU. ROY WHITELEY, FOUNDER.