Tam's eyes opened in property tax effort
His experience with his own home leads him to believe that changes are needed
City Councilman Rod Tam is challenging the real property tax assessment for his Pauoa Valley home, which has taxes that more than doubled in the past five years.
But Tam is finding the process a bit daunting and is wondering how the average person -- as well as a member of the City Council -- can effectively maneuver the property tax system, which he describes as confusing.
"Maybe it's good it happened to me personally so I know what other property owners are going through," Tam said.
Tam tried to keep his appeal alive yesterday by appearing before the city Board of Review, which decides property tax assessment appeals, to ask the board to reconsider a decision to kick out his appeal.
The board dismissed the appeal because it said Tam missed the Jan. 17 deadline.
But Tam told the board that he mailed the form by the deadline.
Property tax assessment staff assisting the board said, however, that Tam filed the wrong form: the 2005 appeals form instead of the 2006 appeals form.
Tam said that he did not realize he filed the wrong form, because the form he used was the one that was mailed with his assessment.
"It's their clerical error. If they say it's the wrong form, then why'd they send it to me?" he said, adding that the form was confusing.
The board will take about three to four weeks to make a decision on whether to reverse the dismissal.
Tam left the hearing a little irritated.
"To question me with double talk, basically, it's really uncalled for, and you can state that," he said. "This is exactly how the average citizen is treated."
According to city tax records, Tam's Booth Road home, built in 1973, is a one-story home, about 1,200 square feet in size, and sits on a lot just under 5,000 square feet.
The home and land is assessed at $525,000, and his tax bill is $1,884. The first-half payment is due Monday. Tam's taxes in 2001 were $797.
Tam said he decided to file the appeal because he does not believe that he can get the full value for his house if he tried to sell it.
"My house is not up to par. I have dry rot, I have erosion -- there's slippage under my house. I could never sell my house in terms of real value," Tam said.
Based on his experience, he said he will move to make changes to the property tax system including trying to get rid of the market value system.
"The way property taxes are assessed, it is not right. There's no real inspection, basically," he said. "A lot of my constituents have no intention of selling their homes, especially the senior citizens. Why should they be charged the market value?"
Tam also said he would like to work with the city administration to try and make the property tax assessment and appeals system more "user-friendly."