Friday, October 21, 2016

Taxpayers League Mtg: Are Slow Reassessments hurting property tax revenues?

             Wednesday, October 26, 2016  -  7:00 - 9:00 pm
                                        6th Floor Conference Room, Council Office Building

                                              100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850

                                                                    Free and open to the public
Topic:   " Are Slow Reassessments hurting property tax revenues?"

Speakers:  Alexandre Espinosa, Director, Department of Finance
Diane Schwartz Jones, Director, Department of Permitting Services

Questions sent to Speakers:
1.  What were some of the causes leading to this loss of property tax revenue?  Were there gaps in accountability?
2.  What is the annual budget for the Department of Permitting Services (DPS)?  How many inspectors are authorized in the DPS budget?  Have they increased or declined over the past 5 years? How are workloads projected for DPS inspectors?  Are there trade-offs between new vs improvements to properties?
3.  How are inspector backlogs managed to ensure timely and accurate assessments?  What incentives do inspectors have to reduce backlogs? 
4.  How are expired permits tracked and follow-up inspections performed?
5.  Why are the processes for controlling inspections and the interface with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) not automated?
6.  How do inspection backlog standards compare with those in Fairfax and Howard counties?
7.  How does the Department of Finance project revenues for new and improved properties?  How much revenue was not collected in FY 2016 and 2017 due to procedural weaknesses at DPS? at SDAT? 
8.  As a result of the Inspector General's report, when will corrective actions be implemented and how much will they cost?  How much in additional property taxes will the county regain in FY 2018, 2019 and 2020 as a result of corrective actions? What role will SDAT need to play to make DPS changes implementable?
9.  It is estimated that the county has lost $52 million a year in revenue through granting of Income Tax Offset Credits (ITOC) for non-owner occupied homes.  The county claims that it lacks the requisite State authority to remove these credits on failure to submit the form. But the county uses exactly the same qualifications to grant Homestead Credits. State law that authorizes ITOC directly references State law that authorizes homestead credits.  Why has the county not sought authority from the state to remove the ITOC from every property whose owner has not submitted a homestead credit verification form?  Can you justify this loss of revenue? 

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