County assessor asks for evidence of corruption
Oct. 30, 2012 — Lassen County’s assessor has twice requested evidence of allegations made at the Lassen County Board of Supervisors’ Oct. 19 meeting that elected officials and their friends pay less taxes than they should simply because of who they are or who they know.
Ken Bunch, the county’s tax assessor, said he has twice asked kanwehelp secretary Eileen Spencer or her representative for information regarding her allegation that a six-month investigation by members of her group has turned up “widespread” tax assessment corruption that benefits Lassen County’s elected officials and their friends.
At the Oct. 19 supervisors’ meeting Spencer alleged Fred and Theresa Nagel have been living in a house at Eagle Lake for 24 years and paying less property tax than they should.
Last week Bunch acknowledged an appraiser in his office did not code the file regarding the Nagel’s property correctly, and they were not assessed the correct amount once they finished their building.
According to Bunch, the Nagels will owe about $2,000 in taxes for the improvements that were made on their two-bedroom dwelling made after their building permit expired.
“This is a big problem,” Spencer told the supervisors. “This is a very widespread problem. We’ve been doing this for six months, and it’s really sad.”
According to Spencer, more complaints will be filed.
“I’m finding out over the past six months this has happened far too many times,” Spencer said. “These are only elected officials. There are other people who have come up, friends of the elected officials who are in the same position, but we will be filing more.”
Kanwehelp apparently did not accept Bunch’s explanation of the Nagel situation and acknowledgement, and the blog referred to his version of events as “malarkey” on its website.
According to Bunch, the assessor’s office received another letter from kanwehelp regarding the Nagels Wednesday, Oct. 24. Bunch said the letter contained an inaccurate interpretation of how Proposition 13 is applied to the property and an inappropriate linking of the value of the Nagel’s property to an adjacent residence because the properties are so dissimilar. In addition, Spencer’s estimate of the value of the adjacent property was much too high.
Bunch said when Spencer’s husband, John, dropped off the letter at the assessor’s office, “I asked formally, in front of witnesses, (I) requested any information they might have to correct the rolls, and then I sent her an email yesterday with the same request. She claims in front of the board she’s got six months of research and all this information about elected officials who aren’t assessed properly. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t say, ‘Please share that with me. What are we talking about here?’”
In his email to Spencer, Bunch said he wrote, “I am not aware of any missed assessments. Please inform me as soon as possible as to the parcels you are stating to the board are not in compliance with property tax law.”
Bunch said he didn’t want to “stimulate more nonsense” because it undermined the public’s confidence in government, but he’s asking Spencer to make any other information she has public.
He said he doesn’t know of any other missed assessments.
“I’ve looked, and I can’t find any,” Bunch said.
Spencer did not return the newspaper’s calls seeking comment for this story.
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