Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sullivan Fires Back At Reynolds

Oklahoma County
Leonard Sullivan
“For Senator Jim Reynolds and Rep. Mike Reynolds to attempt to use figures regarding sales in a way to discredit the assessor’s office proves their ignorance of the assessment process and the requirements placed on assessors from the legislature they are a part of,” said Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan.

Sullivan responded to this morning's charges by Jim Reynolds that Oklahoma County is overtaxing property owners.

“The Reynolds’ complain the Oklahoma County Assessor’s Office is reflecting the most accurate values as of each January 1st, based on market sales and comparable properties inside a neighborhood. For them to complain values change up and down AFTER the market value is set by law on January 1st shows their ignorance of the assessment process and the laws they are sworn to uphold,” Sullivan said.

“The Reynolds complaint is that 66 percent of the homestead properties that sold last year were taxed too low. I will do everything I can to keep property taxes as low as possible and reflect market conditions. In a perfect statistical world, 50 percent would sell for more and 50 percent would sell for less than the median priced home on a bell curve. Since the Reynolds appear ignorant of the facts, trying to explain and help them understand statistics may be a little more anyone should expect,” Sullivan said. “First, Senator Reynolds and others complained about property taxes going up ‘automatically’ every year, how does that explain his property value WENT DOWN $20,000 and so did his property tax bill? Rep. Reynolds property value went down $15,000 and his tax bill went down as well. Both of the properties are in Cleveland County, NOT Oklahoma County,” Sullivan said.

“Stuart Jolly the executive director for Americans for Progress also spoke at the news conference. Jolly’s home value was reduced $17,894 in market value and his taxes were reduced $210 from 2010 to 2011 from $5443.83 to $5233.39. Markets work and that is what assessor’s across the state are required to do each year based on legitimate sales and value data. Oklahoma County is one of the best with an appeal rate of less than 1 percent while the national average is 6 to 15 percent,” Sullivan said.

“Assessors are required to set the market values for all the properties in a county each year. If values are going down in an area, that will be reflected in the NEXT YEAR’S figures. Trying to blame someone for what’s happening in the real estate market is like trying to keep back the ocean. Sadly, it appears both Senator and Rep. Reynolds don’t want accurate information, they merely want one piece of the assessment task so they can accuse assessor’s across the state of doing something they admit they have no evidence of occurring,” Sullivan said.

“It was revealed the cities, towns, schools and others are evaluating the impact at the local level. These figures could severely damage the bonding capacity for Oklahoma and hurt our economic development efforts. The due diligence of the legislative leaders would encourage the total impact of this change be evaluated critically before it is voted on in committee and certainly before it is evaluated on either floor of the legislature. To take one single part of a major legislative change and ignore the rest is against common sense and presents an inaccurate image to the public. But, why should anyone expect that when the Reynolds did exactly that with data provided from the Oklahoma County Assessor’s Office,” Sullivan said.

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