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Assessor’s office drags feet when home values decline

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I laughed when I read Placer County Assessor (Kristen) Spears’ description of the wonderful, free services offered by the assessor’s office. Her words sound great, but were pure bureaucratic malarkey. Here is my experience with that office. My wife and I bought a house and closed escrow one year ago today. Because real estate values are down, the price that we paid for that house was about 30 percent less than what it had previously been assessed for. Since then, I have talked to the assessor’s office three times in an attempt to get the house reassessed at our actual purchase price. They say that they “are running a bit behind,” but promise that they will look at it soon. I could understand a delay of a couple of months — maybe even six months. But a year is not reasonable. How much longer will it be? Another year? It really shouldn’t be all that complicated. I’m certain that, had we bought that house for 30 percent more than it had previously been assessed for, they would have promptly reassessed it at the higher value. But when the change in value will reduce my property taxes, they appear to drag their feet perpetually. Meanwhile, I’m stuck paying a tax bill that is probably $800 higher than it should be. If I am one day late in paying my taxes, the county will assess a penalty on me. How much of a penalty will the county assess themselves for their gross tardiness? Douglas M. Fee Auburn