Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Grand jury: Nevada County Assessor's office didn't break law

A grand jury investigation into the Nevada County Assessor's Office found officials did nothing illegal, but could do a better job of educating property owners about their rights.

The Nevada County Grand Jury investigated a citizen complaint about the office's procedures on property assessment and released a report on the secret proceedings Thursday.

Nevada County's real estate market has been declining for several years. Jurors examined whether the county office was being responsible to reassess property, thus lowering tax bills.

A computer analysis procedure that could have pointed out more properties eligible for a lower assessment was used to evaluate the 2008-09 assessment roll, but was not used on the 2009-10 roll.

“It is ultimately the homeowner's responsibility to be aware of a property's assessed value and to request a review in a depressed market,” the report said.

But the assessor's office “has a duty to assist the public by providing better communication and performing periodic analysis of the market,” it continued.

Jurors recommended the computer analysis be expanded, and said the assessor's office should issue press releases twice annually to inform property owners of their rights.

Nevada County Interim Assessor Jim Dal Bon said he did not make the decision to forgo the computer analysis process last year. Dal Bon became assessor after Dale Flippin resigned from the post in December 2009.

Dal Bon agreed with the jury's recommendations and said his office will be more proactive in public relations. His current project is creating a pamphlet explaining the property tax and assessment process.

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail or call (530) 477-4247.

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