Letter: Details on assessments
I feel compelled to respond to Sherry Hamilton’s article in last week’s Gazette-Journal about the Mathews Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office. In the article, Ms. Hamilton states that there were 254 uncompleted assessments left over from prior years and that the Mathews Board of Supervisors appropriated $3,500 to list these properties for the current commissioner. In addition, there were charges for actually assessing the properties and entering them into the county computer system and costs for having someone outside the office entering mapping changes on the county map system.
The commissioner stated that there were also "84 assessments for the first months of 2012" that had to be picked up. He said that some of the assessments went back as far as four years. In actuality, there were only 73 assessments generated after completion of all of the work. This is considerably below the number of supplemental assessments that are normally done in the month of February annually. This can probably be contributed to the decrease in new construction in the past few years. The commissioner, by state law, can only go back three years to perform assessments. The law also requires that assessments be based on the value on Jan. 1 each year, so the stated 84 uncompleted 2012 real estate assessments can’t be listed on the tax rolls and billed until after Jan. 1, 2013.
Of the 73 assessment supplements made, only seven were for new dwellings, of which two were for years prior to 2011. The balance of the assessments was for small additions, garages, docks and piers, etc. The oldest of these two dwellings had a completely incorrect map number on both the building permit and the zoning permit and, because of this, was not properly reported to the commissioner’s office or to the assessor’s office. The second had not been marked substantially complete by the building inspector and, thus, not properly reported to the commissioner’s office. Supplemental bills for these properties are being held by the treasurer’s office and are not being mailed because of many errors showing the proper ownership. The office infrastructure in the commissioner’s office was exactly the same as it had been for many years prior to 2012.
The information that I have listed above is public information and is easily obtainable to any citizen by simply asking. I think it behooves public officials to truthfully state facts to our citizens. and for the Mathews Board of Supervisors to verify all information before appropriating our limited taxpayer money to have outside firms perform the duties of our county and state offices. Most importantly, I think it is imperative that newspapers verify facts and figures prior to publishing them in news articles.
Raymond A. Hunley
An article in the Sept. 20 Gazette-Journal stated that Commissioner of the Revenue Les Hall had a backlog of 254 assessments when he first took office, but that is incorrect. The actual number was 154. An earlier article on the subject contained the erroneous number, which had been supplied by Mr. Hall. He subsequently called and made a correction, but the incorrect number was inadvertently repeated.