The following letter was sent from Roy Whiteley, Founder of Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation, to Harford County Executive David Craig, the Harford County Delegation, and Harford County President and Council. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen
For the past eleven years, we have been trying on behalf of 2.2 million property taxpayers to effect some changes to the property tax assessment and appeals system. Our success has been very limited. About the only gain we can point to is the fact that the Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) has now recognized the taxpayer’s right and does allow taxpayers to record their first and second level appeals hearings. While these recordings have no legal status, we maintain they do provide the taxpayer with an excellent learning tool to perfect factual, subjective and objective testimony for the higher level, better source of relief, the Maryland Tax Court.
Even this small improvement could not have been achieved without the continuous support we have received collectively and individually from each of you. This year Senator Barry Glassman led the effort with introduction of our two principal bills, the task force to study the whole flawed assessment and appeals system and the Internet access to worksheets that would allow taxpayers to access any property worksheet for comparative purposes thereby arriving at an informed decision regarding a possible appeal. Delegate Susan McComas cross-filed the legislation in the House.
Due to the lack of reading, understanding and accepting our material as factual over the dribble espoused in rebuttal by SDAT, the General Assembly, mainly via the dictatorial committee process has completely ignored the incomprehensible, convoluted process of appeals hoops the taxpayer must jump through. These trials and tribulations cause the taxpayers to just throw up their hands in despair doing nothing to challenge unfair and inequitable assessments that they know are incorrect and unacceptable. SDAT and the General Assembly fail to recognize that a revised assessment system based on actual sales and the access to worksheets could lead to less appeals, savings in the required number of assessors, cost savings due to less PTAAB and Court appeals
Despite this lack of more positive success, we plan to continue our efforts. We, on behalf of the 2.2 million beleaguered property taxpayers, offer our sincere thanks to each of you for the support you have given to our causes. We hope these efforts will continue as some of you move on the other political service or to re-election in your present areas.
We would request early consideration of the approach that might be made next year. It seems logical to us that our bills might gain more support and have more emphasis if the entire delegation would be more supportive of each other’s work by signing on as sponsors to each other’s bills. The showing of a unified delegation effort should certainly carry more weight as it makes it way through the legislative process. We think as a delegation you should show this solidarity first on behalf of the Harford Countians you are elected to represent and secondly to the remainder of the State’s taxpayers for the same reasoning.
Again, we thank you for your past support and efforts and look forward to working with each of you next year in anticipation of a more successful session. Yours for better government.
Roy Whiteley, Founder