Appeals board is biased towards assessor’s office
February 17, 2015
OPINION By NOEL FOERST
Most people are unaware of the property Tax Appeals Board of San Luis Obispo County hearing procedures until they question their property’s assessed taxes. Their next step is to challenge the Assessor’s office of Tom Bordonaro Jr. This entails appeals board hearing, where it is stated early on that the burden of proof is on the assessor’s office to prove their case on the total market value of a home in a specific time period for their appraisal assessment.
The appeals board hearing consists of three people who are appointed by the SLO County Board of Supervisors to serve as a “fair” board in evaluating the dissatisfied property owners of their assessed property by a county appraiser.
These board members receive a stipend permitted by the county per hearing. Is this a conflict of interest? The county lost tax revenue during the years in which the housing market crashed. Is paying board members to render decisions favorable to the county one small way of making up for lost revenue?
I attended three hearings prior to my own. As an audience member, I witnessed the same board members deny all cases brought forth by property owners who were dissatisfied with the county appraisers’ over-assessed values of their properties, which resulted in the property owners having to pay higher property taxes. I can only determine after these hearings that the board members are biased towards the assessor’s office when rendering their decisions.
It appears that the Board’s protocol is to first let the property owners vent their facts and give the impression that they are really concerned about the property owners’ issues, though they are not. They then take their 15 to 20 minute coffee break after they have heard the property owner vent. This is to have the property owner think that they are actually considering the facts presented.
Apparently, the board members have a protocol in place, as they return with the
same decisions every time, denial of the property owner’s request to lower the tax assessment.
I think it is time to change protocol. Actually take into consideration the reason for the appeal, really look at and compare the facts presented instead of going solely off of a slanted county appraiser assessment and thus make it truly fair for the homeowner in doing so.
Noel C. Foerst has lived in Paso Robles since 1990. He is a retire CHP officer and the father of four, the grandfather of 13 and the great grandfather of one.