Dear Editor

On Friday, January 3, and as it relates to my personal situation, the county assessor left a message on my home phone asking me to provide information so she could build her defense against questions I had raised regarding my taxes. From this I would ask, “What could her office need in terms of information to build a case with the possible potential of raising my tax burden.”

I’m not sure I want to provide anything to her to build her defense. She left another message on my home phone on Wednesday the eighth [January]. Then shortly thereafter she sent a very unprofessional faxed message to my school fax machine. This begs the question, if she knows where I work, why couldn’t she simply call the school number to set a feasible time to discuss the issue? Why call my home on Wednesday morning? Why send a distasteful and unprofessional fax that states she will simply ask for a continuance because I will not answer a phone or otherwise cooperate?

She left another message on my home phone on Wednesday the eighth. Then shortly thereafter she sent a very unprofessional faxed message to my school fax machine. This begs the question, if she knows where I work, why couldn’t she simply call the school number to set a feasible time to discuss the issue? Why call my home on Wednesday morning? Why send a distasteful and unprofessional fax that states she will simply ask for a continuance because I will not answer a phone or otherwise cooperate??

When I called her back after receiving the fax she asked me, “Do you think I’m picking on you or do you think I made a mistake?”

I said I didn’t think either. She accused me of stating that very thing in the past. I have never said anything of the sort and told her that. She said I have because I have asked her about it in the past and have asked every couple of years. She said her daughter had received text messages that she has heard about that were of a derogatory nature and directed at her. I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about.

At this point in the conversation she went on to threaten, “Because you are doing this I am going to have to raise your taxes because you have added a brick sidewalk in your back yard and you have brought this on yourself.” The purpose of public service ought to be to educate and not to agitate.

She went on to say that I had said things to one of her deputies. That, too, is a lie. I went to the office to get license plates for a car. I asked if Ms. McBride was in and was told she was off for the day. Ms. Stever asked what I needed and I told her I thought my property taxes were too high when compared to some of the others in Panaca and the county. I asked how to check it out and SHE told me I had to go to the Board of Equalization. I asked how to do that and she handed me a form with no instruction and I filled it out and handed it back. This was the only exchange with Ms. Stever I had in relation to this or any other issue.

I did ask Ms. McBride how many others have come before the board and she answered, “Quite a few.” I further asked how many of those win their respective cases and she said about 50 percent. I asked her if she thought those citizens were picking on her or if she had made a mistake. In her words, she stated, “The board just felt sorry for people and was giving them a couple of thousand off.”

Make no mistake, I don’t want the board to feel sorry for me. However, as a taxpayer I do want to be treated with dignity and respect if I have a question regarding the very taxes that pay the public employee’s salary. I want to have taxes equitable with my friends and neighbors who have like properties. I want to talk to someone whom can answer my questions and explain how taxes are levied against a property in a pleasant and professional manner. I want somebody that won’t argue that I shouldn’t build a house at this stage in my life because I will pay high taxes for the rest of my life.

Our current assessor discredits the term public servant. Her position should be that of service, information, education, openness and honesty. Instead, we as citizens receive a mix of ill-mannered and discourteous gestures and statements from an “entitled” public official that leave us wondering how she was ever elected.

Sincerely,

C. Pete Peterson, Panaca

P.s. – In the recent tax issue of the newspaper there were only eleven personal residences in the entire county with an assessed value of more than my house. I am not sure that is realistic. I pay nearly $5,000 per year.