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September 2, 2009 > County Board approves waiver of assessment appeals fee

County Board approves waiver of assessment appeals fee

Submitted By Laurel Anderson

The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors held a special meeting on August 28 at the request of County Assessor Larry Stone and voted to waive a $30 fee that 5,000 property owners would have had to pay to have their Assessment Appeals considered by the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board.

The "one-time" waiver would only affect applications that meet all of the following conditions:

A person affected or the person's agent, or a relative mentioned in Property Tax Rule 317, timely filed a PROP 8 (DECLINE-IN-VALUE) REQUEST FORM requesting review of the 2009-10 assessed value of the property on or before the Assessor's August 15, 2009 deadline; and

The Assessor has not completed the review prior to August 31, 2009; and

The Application for Changed Assessment is filed with the Clerk of the Board between September 1 and September 15, 2009 inclusive.

Requests for assessment adjustments filed with the Assessor's Office do not require a filing fee. However, appeals of the Assessor's determination are filed with the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board along with a $30 filing fee.

"The Assessor's Office experienced an extraordinary number of requests this year and despite their best efforts, it wasn't possible for them to review all of the requests that owners filed prior to the August 15th deadline," said Board President Supervisor Liz Kniss. "We believe that it is only fair to honor the efforts of those property owners who have filed their applications to appeal based on existing policies."

After reducing the assessments of 90,000 properties to reflect market conditions, the Assessor's Office received an additional 34,000 requests for reductions, nearly half of which came in since July 1.

"That volume of requests for reductions is more 325 percent increase over the prior year," said Stone. "Our entire staff has been deployed to process these requests throughout the workweek and on Saturdays and we were able to complete more than 29,000 reviews."

"These are hard times," said Supervisor Ken Yeager, Chair of the Board's Finance and Government Operations Committee. "Homeowners have watched the value of their property decline and acted in good faith to request a review of the assessed value. They should not be penalized when the circumstances are beyond their control."

The one-time fee waiver does not apply to every property owner. All three of the conditions listed above have to be met. Owners must have filed a request for an assessment review with the Assessor's Office prior to August 15.

If the Assessor's Office has rendered a value on the property and the owner wants to appeal, the $30 filing fee would still be required. The 5,000 owners who qualify will be notified by the Assessor's Office and will have to complete a formal application with the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board by September 15. They will also have to include the Assessor's notification with their application to avoid payment of the $30 filing fee.

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