Sunday, September 2, 2007

Draft Letter To the Editor of The Standard Examiner

Hola Friends and Neighbors,

I didn't sleep much last night so got up and wrote what was on my mind. Question is if I am over stepping my bounds by saying this almost as if it were coming from the whole Valley.

So I would appreciate any comments you might have as it is only currently a "draft". If I speak on behalf of us all I want to be sure of what I say first.



Rebuttal to Weber County Commissioners “Weber has ideas in hopper to ease the pain of higher property taxes. Guest Commentary by Ken Bishoff, Craig Dearden and Jan Zogmaister by D-Bell

The Commissioner trio asks rhetorically, “What are we going to do about this problem?”

Well let me offer a few solutions if I may. You mention the Huntsville area and say “Now remember, Article XIII calls for a uniform rate, which means other homes or properties in the neighborhood will likely increase at much the same rate. The framers of our Constitution did not take into account whether or not the property owner wanted to sell. The Constitution is clear on establishing market value”.

You three and the assessor need to know the US Constitution, as interpreted by the US Supreme Court, found non uniform assessment of property to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And you forgot to mention that the Utah State Constitution requires all property be assessed based on its fair market value each year. Yet State law requires all property be assessed at least once every five years. It seems State Law violates State Constitution. Only one fifth of the ninety-three thousand parcels of property in Weber County are assessed each year. So why did assessors hit Huntsville during both 2006 and 2007, perhaps neglecting other areas if not for politically expedient reasons? I leave it to the reader to decide. Secondly, you state “Article XIII calls for all tangible property in Weber County to be taxed at the uniform rate. That certified tax rate is approved each year by you three Commissioners after several public meetings.” Additionally, the last two years you lowered the rate as property valuation increased. This seems disingenuous since tax rates in the Huntsville area (tax unit 35) were decreased by 3%, yet property valuations increased 10% in 2006, but in 2007 where the tax rate decreased 13%, property valuations increased 137%, off the charts. Your job is to lower tax rates when property valuations increase to mitigate the impacts of increased taxes in accordance with State “Truth in Taxation” Law. You did not perform your jobs with fidelity IAW your oath of office. And the “several public meetings”? Just when and where were those? My tax notification does not announce any meetings. State “Truth in Taxation” Law requires scrupulously publicized public meetings where you must explain your budget to your constituents. We are at a loss to know when and where these meetings were held IAW state law. I asked what the county budget was on 15 August, during an “informational meeting”. A meeting which was demanded by more than one-thousand valley wide signatures on a Valley wide petition I wrote. Commissioner Dearden did not seem to know what the County Budget was much less explain it. So what are we going to do about that? How about follow the law. How about perform to your sworn oath? Using GRAMA, Representative Froerer obtained Weber County New Growth Analysis data. It shows new growth for 2007 was $10,695,113,403, an increase of $1,818,445,046 over last year, or a 20.5% increase. But wait! After “factoring and reappraisal” it drops to only $1,148,140,185 for a 6.27% increase instead of the 20.5% increase. Yes those are BILLIONS folks, numbers so high my calculator could not accommodate them. The footnote says “prior year is post (after) Board of Equalization (adjustments)” this would indicate a 20.5 % increase in new growth tax receipts. So please explain what this “factoring” and where the extra 1.8+ Billion dollars went? “What are we going to do about the problem?” Well, Commissioners, how about performing your duties with fidelity. Then there is the matter of the “list of ideas to ease the (property taxes) pain”. These four “ideas” are nothing more than recycled duds and politically expedient eyewash from last year. The “circuit breaker” for low income families is a cruel joke. The legislation for both - allowing more acreage to fall under the primary residential reductions umbrella, and the reduction of acreage to qualify for green zone is also re-treading and passing the buck to the legislature. They have seen these “ideas” and rejected them in the past. About the only thing suggested which plows new ground is “we also hope to conduct valuations more often to coincide with the setting of the tax rate which should avoid a large increase in any one calendar year.” How about a commitment or some action? Are your actions limited to rejecting rebates? Are our legislative representatives so weak and ineffective you can dismiss them out of hand? We actually agree on the “assessments more often” point. But only if assessors are not sent out with guidance from the Commissioners and Assessor’s office to go find where the MLS indicates a real estate boom is taking place and rip off all those “rich” people in the Valley or anywhere else in the County. And only if trained professionals are used to do assessments. Finally, Commissioners and Assessor, “What are we going to do about this problem?” I suggest “we” enforce the law. It is your responsibility to identify and see that the County Attorney prosecutes tax evaders who use creative parceling, fraudulent claims of primary residence, and abuse FAA agricultural land law. Figure what has been done to evade taxes by obvious strange parceling and making false claims, force proof of “crop production or agricultural use” as it now seems conspicuously absent. Use utility bill trends for “primary residences” determinations and prosecute offenders for tax evasion. We have “Agric. FAA” investment land up here valued at more than $5 million on which $33 is the total tax bill, for example. And this land has not seen bovine excrement, sheep shizia, a horse apple, or plow share in decades, if ever. If you want to “mine our Valley for gold”, start there. But silver is more likely. You don’t even have to get off your rear ends. Oh, and “what are we (your constituents) going to do about it?” Have a very long memory come election time. And hold all those responsible for this travesty accountable at the caucuses, nomination conventions, and at the polls. I think I can speak for the permanent residents, mostly poor like me, and non primary residents with lots cash stashed away that “we all promise you all that much”.

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