From Roy Whiteley, founder, Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation:
Subject: Privacy Concerns with Maryland Public Documents
As part of the Maryland property tax assessment appeals process, the taxpayer might choose to research public land records to obtain comparable data. The land records are in the public domain available without any access restrictions at the courthouses of the 24 Maryland jurisdictions. They are also available on the Internet. The Internet website, MDLandRec.net says this is a “Digital Image Retrieval System for Land Records in Maryland. A Joint Service of the Maryland Judiciary and the Maryland State Archives. The Maryland Judiciary, the 24 elected Court Clerks of Maryland and the Maryland Archives have joined in partnership to provide up to date access to all verified land record instruments in Maryland. This service is currently being provided at no charge to individuals who apply for a user name and password. Users are encouraged to provide feedback and inform the Maryland State Archives of any problems encountered.”
On the surface, this preamble seems to provide the same access and privacy one might find by visiting any courthouse but with the added convenience of obtaining information from the comfort of one’s home. However, to establish an account by completing a user name and password, the taxpayer is first faced with the following note: “PLEASE NOTE: Your browser must accept cookies to use this system. This website also uses pop-up windows. If you are using software to block pop-up windows, you must include this site in your list of permitted websites in order to access all features.” This is a very disturbing, unacceptable requirement subjecting the taxpayer, whose taxpayer dollars support this site, to unnecessary invasive procedures. It is not information sought or required at any courthouse and does not appear to be necessary for the State to obtain through such intrusive means.
Microsoft, the developer of the Windows computer operating system, included within the operating system the ability to block pop-up windows and the ability to disable “cookies,” if desired. Cookies are an intrusive vehicle that allows any computer access to your computer and any of its personal information. The pop-up windows are an annoying intrusion of unwanted advertisements. Both are an invasion of privacy which we abhor. We do not allow either on our computer and we quickly exit any website that requires either in order to use their site.
The land records of Maryland are public records. They should be made available to any taxpaying user with the same conditions as exist in an on-site courthouse visit. We see absolutely no need to allow the State access to our computer and any of its contents to obtain taxpayer paid for records and means of obtaining them whether it is by physical inspection at a courthouse or via the Internet.
We request that this invasion of privacy, such as is being questioned ad infinitum today, cease and desist immediately. We request that you take legislative action, if necessary, to correct this situation and protect our privacy.
Roy Whiteley, Founder.
Roy Whiteley, nut.
Steve Jacobs says
Hey Roy, wearing your tinfoil beanie today?
Seriously. Totally frivolous nonsense.
The state can find better things to spend the money on. The cost of maintaining databases like this are expensive, not to mention the millions in labor cost. Drive to the local court house if you want the information that badly, please!
If the information is readily available from any internet connection and it is in the public domain already. Now you have a problem in the way the information is delivered to you? I guess you should have access to the way the state compiled the property valuation as well? There is an appeal process in place to dispute your assessment and there are other sources such as property sales, Zillow or Trullia to cross reference values or you can indeed hire your own appraiser to value your property and submit as evidence to SDAT if you like. Personally, I haven’t found that much discrepancy between the assessed value and the true value (which can only really be determined at the sale of said property). I really don’t know what your beef really is about, is it the fact that you must pay property taxes or that your property is grossly overvalued? Perhaps you have a point to make about the way in which the system determines your assessment. In my experience in real estate, I see that for the most part assessed values tend to be lower than market value and add to the fact that homestead provisions already lower your tax obligation to a percentage of the total increase (if any) in value from the previous assessment period. You may need to state to case in better terms and give some facts to back up your case because as I see it, you come off as a disgruntled homeowner but most people I know have a problem with everything govt does in general. Government generally doesn’t ever please anyone unless you are getting something for nothing.
Speaking of county government, did they do any work at all this week or do they get a five day weekend with pay?
Maybe instead of asking the internet news website, you should call up all the phone numbers on the Harford County website and ask specific questions.
Is there something you know, I don’t? Are you upset about something that you recently required services from Harford County over the Holiday? It seems your cryptic question leaves a lot on the table.
I’m sure County workers are no different than anywhere else, bro, a lot of people ask to have off for the Holidays. Is that hard for you to understand, bro?
mostly blue says
@Bob– While administrative offices are closed, there are plenty of departments such as Emergency Services (911), Fire, Police, Water and sewer and county, public works and other 24/7 operations have continued. It isn’t the norm that the county closes that many days in a row but as a county employee, I appreciate the fact that our employer chose to reward us with two extra days off because demand for permits or other services drops off significantly anyway and many employees are off as well taking time off. In addition, many private employers who do business with the county are also closed this week. Christmas doesn’t always fall in the middle of the work week so they saw fit to let us have some down time as well, after all we get no bonuses or commissions so it is appreciated. Only people like you will find fault in it but if your employer closed, I wouldn’t be making a comment about it either. Some people are never happy…
mostly blue says
In my particular department, I see less people during the month of December. While there is plenty of administrative work to do, I could really take off two weeks in December with no problem. It is more a question of timing and market forces that determines how busy I get in a given time and December isn’t a particularly busy month, but come January and February things will get ramped up pretty fast as my clients see fit to see me (perhaps as a New Year’s resolution) or some other reason as to why December just doesn’t seem to be a high demand period for my job in particular. There are jobs within the county that depend on market forces (private market) demand which happens to tie in with clients decision making as to when to do something and see me according to their needs. My job is to be ready and available as needed on demand, just like you expect the water to come out of the faucet when you need it. I am part of the county infrastructure and I am there when you need me but at the same time I am not standing the post waiting for something to happen. As they say, busy people will find something to do and lazy people wait for someone to give them something to do. I tend to do and my work is pretty much self directed so taking off according to my caseload is not a hardship on the citizens needing my services. In addition, all my cases are aware that I am off for a few days and have actually done some follow up with clients (unpaid work) while at home. I don’t mind it, as I know my job and work actually helps people and while $$$ are the reason I work, it is helping my clients (citizens like you) that I actually help and I enjoy it!!!. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.., hopefully if you come to see me you will send a note to the CE and tell them that I helped you out. In fact, many have done just that and it makes my week when our citizens actually not only thank me but go and tell my superiors about it. it is awesome!!