From Roy Whiteley, Founder, Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation:
Hello Fellow Dissatisfied Property Taxpayers
As promised, Mr. Roy McGrath, Senior Advisor to Governor Hogan, called us to discuss some of our issues regarding the flawed, failed, property tax assessment and appeals system. We sent the Governor and staff members a copy of our November, 2012, 40-page report “The Case for Maryland’s Property Tax Assessment and Appeals Process Reform”. As we noted in our last email, the previous Governor and the General Assembly also received copies, but did nothing.
Although our twelve-year effort to have a task force established to study the ills of the Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) never occurred as we envisioned, some resemblance of this task force was mysteriously created within the 2014 budget bill. A task force was created with the SDAT Director and eight of his staff placed on the 17-man committee. No media, ordinary taxpayers, or any of the over 300 activists whose names we have seen in numerous media sources were invited to participate. This sterling committee somehow did manage to produce for the Governor and General Assembly, a scathing 65-page report highly critical of the department even though it was limited in scope to four very specific items. Not surprising, nine pages of the report were the Director’s rebuttal of the findings. We sent the Governor our 18-page critique of that task force report. Mr. McGrath said he has read much of these three epistles. The media and the public needs to do the same.
Mr. McGrath informed us that the Governor is quite concerned with SDAT. He dispatched Lieutenant Governor Rutherford, Mr. McGrath and others to view SDAT and its operation recently.
Our impression of Mr. McGrath’s comments is that SDAT’s position of “we need more money to fix things” really was not convincing. SDAT’s solution is always “more money” instead of looking at their own incompetence, lack of supervision, improper use or prioritization of personnel or assets available to achieve cost effective results. We got the impression that this inspection was more confirmation of the substance of these reports.
In essence, Mr. McGrath stated that the Governor is looking hard at the SDAT situation. This is the best news we have heard in over eight years especially since we endured complete rebuff and total disregard from the O’Malley administration. It appears the Hogan administration has a full plate for now, so therefore nothing substantial is likely to occur until after the close of the current GA session. No finite plans were discussed, but we have been assured that we can expect further contact from Mr. McGrath as plans develop.
We expressed the idea that a “Chainsaw Charlie” needs to be placed at the helm of SDAT to help change its lack of dedication to its mandated mission, attention to detail and priority, its do nothing attitude, its turf protecting culture, and its lack of accountability to Maryland taxpayers. This did not seem to offend Mr. McGrath who thanked us for our efforts and suggested possible future contact for additional consultation. We strongly support these words and ideas and hope Governor Hogan will continue his efforts to meet his campaign rhetoric. We stand ready to help in any way we can. You should too by contacting your legislators to get on board by reviewing the limited but damaging 65-page report insisting that corrective action be taken to correct this failed bureaucracy that is costing us all BILLIONS of assessable base tax dollars.
Remember, Nothing Happens Unless We Make It Happen??
Roy Whiteley, Founder