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