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I JUST WISH TO CLARIFY Loose Lips’ characterization of my testimony on the Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals Amendments Act (12/10). My testimony supported the intent of the bill: to limit the huge rollbacks to commercial property owners. However, I had strong disagreement with the sponsor of the bill—Mr. Clarke—on how to do that.

My testimony supported having nine members with financial expertise on the board, three of whom would be certified commercial property assessors. I argued that these members need not only be assessors but could also be mortgage lenders and accountants.

I vehemently opposed the requirement that six board members be lawyers and that the chairperson be a lawyer or appraiser. I pointed out to Mr. Clarke that his predecessor, Mr. Wilson, had neither an accounting degree nor a law degree, yet knew the city budget better than anyone and effectively chaired the legislative branch of government. This bill’s initial version would preclude outstanding citizens like Mr. Wilson from chairing this very crucial board.

Further, I argued that if the council were truly serious about reforming property tax appeals, the bill would be amended to include Initiative 35. That initiative, which voters will have the chance to decide on in September, will finally tear the veil of secrecy away from the board’s private decision-making on commercial property assessments, establish an Office of the Public Advocate that will assist homeowners in their appeals, and establish the right for residential taxpayers to appeal a commercial property tax assessment. Putting the board before closer scrutiny and assisting small taxpayers with the intentionally complex system will garner residents genuine property tax accountability and fairness.

Mount Pleasant