On September 19, Board Members held an informational
in San Diego to discuss the current state of property tax administration in California and the proposed split roll initiative. The hearing included four panels composed of taxpayers, assessors, and other tax experts.
The first three panels discussed topics related to the current and future administration of property tax, focusing mainly on the recruitment and retention of qualified appraisers and other property tax staff. Specifically, Board Members and County Assessors agree that more importance must be placed on replacing an aging workforce. There is currently a shortage of experienced appraisers, a situation that will be exacerbated by many skilled employees retiring in the next decade.
It is imperative we quickly find ways to attract people into the profession because training to be an appraiser can take up to five years. One solution is to raise pay scales so they are competitive with the private sector; however, raising government pay scales is a long and tedious process. Regardless of the difficulty, something must be done soon to ensure that taxpayers continue to have their property assessed fairly and accurately.
The fourth panel provided input on how the
split roll initiative
The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2018—
would impact the administration of property tax if passed next November.
Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone both testified that the initiative would be unfeasible given the unreasonable implementation date and the sheer number of staff it would take to reassess thousands of commercial and industrial properties—an impossibility given the dearth of experienced appraisers and the amount of training required to increase the talent pool.
Assessor Stone predicted that if a split roll measure is approved, Santa Clara County’s assessment appeals for commercial and industrial properties would increase from the current level of about 2,100 per year to
more than 25,000 per year.
He emphasized that the county could not keep up with the appeals.
While proponents believe wealthy corporations are not paying their fair share, the assessors and tax experts who testified agreed the split roll initiative would be expensive to implement and offers no certainty that it would improve California’s economy, a fact verified by the
fiscal impact estimate
released by the Legislative Analyst’s Office in February 2018.
During the public comment period, many speakers provided testimony against the split roll initiative. The biggest fear came from small business owners who will have to pay much higher rents if the initiative passes. No public comments were made in support of the measure.
The BOE will hold three more special hearings so we can continue our statewide discussion on ways to modernize California’s property tax system while protecting taxpayers. You can find more information on upcoming meetings and hearings on my