Belated Follow-up on the WCCUSD Campaign to Pressure the County Assessor

This en­try is part 2 of 3 in the se­ries “Kramer vs. Kramer” to “Kramer vs. Ramsey”

The Yet Another WCCUSD WTF (What the Funicular) Moment post was put up be­fore board meet­ing. The board did ac­tu­ally re­ceive a re­port and dis­cuss (ac­tu­ally mostly just Ramsey and some Kronenberg) how to strong-arm the County Assessor into be­ing less in­clined to main­tain lower as­sess­ments. Now I have the clip so you can lis­ten and be awed. Here is the clip on lo­cal TV where the County Assessor, Gus Kramer, ex­presses his side.

What is this all about? The best ex­pla­na­tion can be found in a re­cent SF Chronicle piece on the lat­est as­sess­ments. Basically, if the mar­ket value of your house is less than the Prop. 13-set as­sess­ment (based on the sale price), you can have the as­sessed value of your house set to the mar­ket value on a year-by-year ba­sis un­til it catches up with what the reg­u­lar Prop. 13-set as­sess­ment would be. The sys­tem is set up to pro­tect the tax­payer, not the gov­ern­ment. (The Board agenda did a very bad job of fram­ing the is­sue.)

What Mr. Ramsey seemed to be de­mand­ing was that Mr. Kramer in­crease the mar­ket val­u­a­tions for such homes across the board to be more “re­al­is­tic,” so they would be higher. It was never stated how much he thought this would raise in ad­di­tional taxes.

Mr. Kramer begged off ap­pear­ing be­fore Mr. Ramsey on Mr. Ramsey’s cho­sen ground, a School Board meet­ing, say­ing every­one should wait till the lat­est as­sess­ments were re­leased to dis­cuss things. These have been re­leased. Primarily be­cause of the Chevron fire and the de­cline in its as­sess­ment, the WCCUSD as­sess­ment will de­cline 5.9%.

So, what was the point of this? It seems odd that Ramsey would be fo­cus­ing on squeez­ing small home­own­ers with no clear tar­get for in­creased col­lec­tion. It’s not odd if you just look at this as a mere ges­ture. The tax rates were go­ing to go up any­way, be­cause a com­pletely new bond au­tho­riza­tion was passed in 2012. The whole saga of the drop in as­sessed val­u­a­tion lead­ing to higher taxes was just a dif­fer­ent story line to dis­tract at­ten­tion from the fact that a whole new bond au­tho­riza­tion was com­ing to roost.