By Susan Guinn
For a lot of people, property is the cornerstone of their net wealth. Whether it be your home or your business, the value of that property, and by extension the way it is taxed, has a direct impact on your financial well-being.
Unfortunately, San Diego County currently has a system that is inefficient, inaccurate, and wasteful. It’s a system that takes money out of the pockets of hardworking families and businesses. Know the facts before you vote for this critical office.
Right now, San Diego County is ranked second worst in the state for unresolved property assessment appeals. Only 12,182 assessment appeals were completed last fiscal year, leaving 14,506 unresolved. That’s unacceptable. To contrast, the prior Assessor Dave Butler completed 42,580 assessment appeals in his last fiscal year in 2010. The current inefficiency and bureaucracy of the Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk’s office is a serious and costly problem for San Diego County taxpayers.
The current Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk has raised fees for families and small businesses by $2.3 million and increased his own budget by almost $10 million. Despite this, San Diego County ranks worst in the state with the highest number of mistakes and required corrections to business and property evaluations.
Old systems and outdated practices waste money and resources. Currently, millions of documents including property deeds, birth certificates, land maps, licenses, etc., are physically stored in warehouses and/or on microfiche. San Diego County is the fifth largest county by population in the country. We need a better system.
Perhaps the assessor’s office, currently held by Ernest Dronenburg, simply didn’t get to your assessment appeal. You wouldn’t be alone. Fifty-four percent of our assessment appeals last year got kicked over to this year. Meaning less than half of the work your taxes paid for got done.
Statistically speaking, it’s pretty obvious that the assessor’s office under the current office holder isn’t looking out for property owners and taxpayers.
But the effect on real people is even starker.
Maybe you’re one of the unfortunate people who have been issued a back-tax bill because of inaccurate and inefficient assessments. Unnecessary and unexpected tax bills can break a budget and close a business.
On June 3, San Diego County has a chance to elect someone will look out for taxpayers, and do the job right.
For over 20 years I have protected businesses from fraudulent taxes and fees, and fought for hundreds of families and businesses to collect from insurance companies after catastrophic losses. My firm obtained a $3.3 billion settlement from Big Tobacco to benefit county government. I am well versed in property valuations and have the skills necessary to serve as assessor.
I’m not a career politician or a partisan extremist. I’ve worked in the private sector my entire life, so I know how government decisions affect real people. As a consumer advocate in this position, I will be an independent watchdog to ensure no one pays more than his or her fair share.
Susan Guinn is a candidate for the San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk’s office. She is a consumer-advocate attorney and chair of the San Diego Unified School District‘s Environmental Sustainability Committee.