Protect accountability, keep the Board of Equalization

May 11, 2023

SLO County Assessor Tom Bordonaro

Opinion by Tom Bordonaro, San Luis Obispo County Assessor

Accountability is an ideal that is severely missing in our country today.

People need to be accountable for their actions especially when it’s about the responsibility of government to serve the people. If you believe that government owes a higher duty of accountability to taxpayers, then you will share my opposition to a recently proposed amendment to the California Constitution.

There is a proposal moving through Sacramento right now that will destroy accountability and take away your right to vote for or against the people elected to oversee California’s property tax system. Getting rid of your elected members of the state Board of Equalization (BOE) is a bad idea and a big deal.

If voters pass Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11 (ACA 11), it would eliminate the elected members of the Board of Equalization. This means that the constitutional protections of taxpayers for 144 years would be wiped away and replaced by another unelected, unaccountable, and untouchable state government bureaucracy.

We are dealing with a significant matter here. The total assessed value of all California properties is $7.1 trillion dollars, resulting in nearly $80 billion in local property tax revenues for 2022. Assessing the value of most properties is done by locally elected county assessors, with the Board of Equalization providing the rules and oversight of those elected officials. In the same way that county assessors are elected, the BOE has four elected members plus the state controller, an elected statewide constitutional officer.

Those who seek to eliminate accountability provided by elected BOE members, say that California is the only state with an elected tax board. Good for us and those who wrote the California State Constitution in 1879. Those early Californian’s understood that holding elected representatives accountable is much better than power in the hands of unaccountable state bureaucrats.

When you or other taxpayers have a property assessment question or a property tax problem, you deserve the best, most courteous, and timely help. Elected county assessors are often the first contact for taxpayers. Because of the checks and balances that come with being elected to positions of trust, assessors provide a valuable service to the public. In the same way, the elected representatives on the BOE report to you and they are held to a high standard of accountability for their decisions and actions.

Nearly all of us have experienced a government department that doesn’t work well—EDD and DMV come to mind as examples of inefficient, costly, bureaucratic, and unaccountable government agencies. It is impossible to believe a bunch of career, civil service, untouchable bureaucrats are going to do a better job than the small and efficient group of five elected board members at BOE. Besides, if you don’t like the way a BOE member is doing their job, you can vote them out in the next election.

To me, that is accountability.

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I don’t know much about this, so I am writing maybe to learn something.

Tell me, someone, what has Tom B. done for us? Maybe he did great stuff. But I want to know what these elected officials do to protect us from Sacramento. My guess is that there is nothing he can do. But as I said, I don’t know crap.

Tom is a Cal Poly graduate(with a real degree in Ag Management), served as an elected State Assemblyman, and is currently the SLO County Assessor.

So. He knows business, he knows Sacramento politics, and he knows how to accurately calculate the worth of property.

This is the guy we should be listening to, and supporting.

They’re moving to abolish the wasteful and more than useless Board of Equalization?! Excellent! News to me. It’s election is a circus, it’s essentially powerless, fails in what power it does have, and more than anything is just wastefully unneeded vestige of 1800s railroad regulation. When people on CCN talk about trimming the fat of government, this is the most obvious place to slice. Looks like meat is back on the menu!

California is removing all of our rights one by one. Pay attention taxpayers soon you will have no say so. In 2020 they removed your ability to pass your property to your children and grandchildren, now your property is reassessed. For property/housing that has been in the family for over 30 years that is a sizable tax increase to your offspring. Prop 13 was passed to prevent this and in 2020 they tricked the taxpayers into passing Prop 58. Call your representatives voice your thoughts about this.

I’m sure California would appoint a staff legal council, as we do in our county government, so that this new state appointed board will be very accountable just like our local county government is, right? Then there are laws to assure our public servants get their pay, perks, and pensions. For the public’s level of service, that is governed by fiscal responsibility.