Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Taxes go up but your home value goes down.

We have all just received our tax bill from the San Joaquin County accessor's, Gary W. Freeman. (24 S. Hunter Room 303 Stockton CA 95202 phone 209-468-2630 or 209- 468-2658)
It seems like a cruel joke to play on a homeowner in the current market. Despite the drop in property values, a letter arrives from the assessors office detailing an increase in a parcels assessed valuation. Now it's not really Mr Freeman's fault, as it turns out it is a little referendum (Prop 13) that was passed awhile back that allows the property taxes to go up at a rate of 2% a year even when the value of your home drops drastically as our homes have. Prop 13 was suppose to help us NOT hurt us. We do however have Prop 8 (Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment to Proposition 13 that allows a temporary reduction in assessed value when property suffers a decline in value. A decline in value occurs when the current market value of a property drops below the current assessed value.) See the Board of supervisors site to get an application ( )
We can file a change of assessment, to qualify for a tax break this year, a home's market value on Jan. 1, 2008, must have been less than its previously assessed value. A home may have dropped in value as the summer progressed, for example, but for assessment purposes, only its market value on Jan. 1 is significant. So this doesn't cover the losses we have experienced as things became much worse as the year progressed. To file, contact the clerk at 209-468-2350 and request the form. However to restate, it will not sufficiently lower your tax bill enough to reflect the massive loss of your home value. (The re-assessment is only until Jan 2008, at this time homes dropped from around $400,000 and $500,000 to $300,00 and $250,000 as the banks were selling the homes off at bargain prices, it would drop much lower after this point when there was a glut on the market and this low value is what is effecting us now, many of us are paying a mortgage much higher than the value of our homes. )
Another issue that effects the value of our homes is neighborhood crime.
While we are asked to pay higher taxes, police protection, which comes out of our property taxes is terrible out here, there are squatters staying in these abandoned homes. There are people being attacked and robbed, there is gunfire. This is not the neighborhood we first moved to. When I contacted the Chief of Police's office, they told tell me they can not afford to increase protection. Increase I asked, is there any at all? Our property value will never go up until this safety concern is not addressed.
In speaking to our neighbors, they all seem to feel the same way, you could almost stomach the tax hike if you felt safe in your own home, and knew there was hope your home would have value again. All the issues seem to go hand in hand.
The purpose of this blog is to pool our resources and form a coalition, if we are ever going to have a chance to change our circumstances. There are so many of us at Weston Ranch, the board of supervisors will never hear from, because we would not be eligable for a hearing, for most of us Prop 8 will not help us (see above) in the name of fairness the Board should consider a reduction, since they well know our circumstances, a blanket temporary reduction to relieve this burden for us all would be the right thing to do. We propose a letter writing (email) campaign to the board to request this. In light of our circumstances it is only fair that there is a reduction and freeze on this property tax increase, until things improve. There is strength in numbers. In speaking with the experts on what action to take it was advised:

The best thing you can do is form a coalition of all the remaining residents and appeal together. Groups of people united in a cause are more powerful and get more response from elected representatives. Contact the local media (television, radio, and newspapers) about your situation, invite them to come to your area and see for themselves what is happening. If you can get a large group of people mobilized when the media come you are more likely to get coverage, and negative publicity with a lot of angry voters is the last thing government wants to see, so they are more likely to do something to alleviate the situation.

So be it, we will be out passing out flyers this weekend, if you feel as we do, we need volunteers to spread the word. Please let us hear your views and also let us know if you would like to join the coalition email:

If you want to make an impact email lsahyoun@sjgov.org
and tell them
I am a Weston Ranch resident and in light of the recent real estate conditions of which you are fully aware, and through no fault of ours our home value is nearly gone. Too many abandoned homes and no buyers, with a sever crime problem and not enough officers to make it a desirable place to live and increase our value anytime soon, I request a fair reduction and freeze of property taxes until things improve. Conditions at Weston Ranch are the worst in the county, described as "ground zero".
We are aware we can all file an appeal,
however most of us have seen the decline of our home value after Jan 2008, so Prop 8 will not give us the assistance we need. This is an unusual and very difficult circumstance, I urge you to consider assisting us and reducing and freezing the property taxes for the upcoming tax bill 2008-2009.
Thank You.

At this point be aware that in order to meet their deadline you will also need to do one of two things: file an Informal Prop 8 Request for Review or, if they are too busy or just don’t want to help, file a Formal Appeal.
(Please note whatever your assessed value is, put down no more than half for your opinion of value. You can always adjust the value up at the hearing but you can not ask for a lower value than is on your appeal.)


Other Resources:
“Fighting Back … Appealing Your Property Tax Assessment Made Easy.” a book by Joe Pacini, whose background is in insurance claims and risk management, said towns are able to mishandle assessments because most residents are not willing to go through the process of challenging them. “They’ll throw their hands up in the air. They’ll swear a little bit. And they’ll write the check!”.


Some folks we are going to need to talk to (more contacts to be added later) It's election time, they will care now if they are ever going to.
We need to write these lawmakers and explain how in this kind of environment, after loosing 1/3 or more of our home value, this is a difficult time for a property tax hike. Ask them to help.

Michael J. Machado Phone: (209) 948-7930
Fax: (209) 948-7993
31 E. Channel St., #440Stockton, CA 95202
in Sacramento (916) 651-4005
email senator.machado@sen.ca.gov
Galgiani, Cathleen
(916) 319-2017
Room 2170

Board of Supervisors
Clerk of the Board
Courthouse, Room 701
222 East Weber Avenue
Stockton, CA 95202
AREA: (209) 468-2350
FAX: (209) 468-3694
OFFICE: (209) 468-3113
Ken Vogel (Chairman)kvogel@sjgov.org
Leroy Ornellas (Vice Chairman)lornellas@sjgov.org
Steve Gutierrez stevengutierrez@sbcglobal.net
Victor Mow vicmow@sjgov.org
Larry Ruhstaller lruhstaller@sjgov.org
All Board Memberslsahyoun@sjgov.org


will she represent us?
does she understand our problems...lets ask