What’s bad for the goose is bad for the Councilman
City Council member Rod Tam has found that appealing his property tax assessment is no easy task.
CITY Council member Rod Tam is tasting a bitter dose of bureaucracy
as he contests the real property tax assessment on his home. Without being unsympathetic, other homeowners who have had to confront the same entanglement could not be blamed for saying, "Welcome to our world."
Hundreds of taxpayers who also have challenged skyrocketing valuations of their homes can do little but plow through the daunting task. However, Tam, as one of the officials who make the rules and establish laws, has the influence -- and an obligation -- to fix the burdensome system. No one, not even a Council member, should get stuck in bewildering red tape.
The Star-Bulletin's Crystal Kua reports that Tam received a $525,000 valuation on his 1,200-square-foot Pauoa house, double of what it was five years ago. He says the 33-year-old structure and 5,000-square-foot lot aren't worth what the city claims.
Like many residents who found their homes being appraised at ever-increasing values -- pegged to Honolulu's sharply rising real estate prices -- Tam appealed.
His petition was rejected on a technicality. He filed an appeal form that applied in 2005 and didn't realize the error because the form accompanied the assessment information he was mailed for 2006.
"If they say it's the wrong form," Tam complained, using the pronoun citizens often use to refer to the bureaucracy, "then why'd they send it to me?"
Why, indeed. As a taxpayer, Tam should be outraged. As a Council member, he should lead an effort to overhaul the method by which assessments are made and the dizzying procedures that govern appeals.
Now that he knows "what other property owners are going through," he can give first-hand testimony to his Council colleagues.
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