Thursday, November 01, 2007

Government That Works Part II

I wrote about Our Property Assessment Problem, Our Appeal, and Our Hearing.

Based on my experience at the hearing I sent an email to Shelly Midura and to Arnie Feilkow. Midura answered me promptly and said Mr. Feilkow would be addressing my specific concerns himself. I assumed he would email me or something. I never heard from him. I did however just get a letter from the Board of Review (a.k.a. The City Council).

My appeal was granted and the amount they assessed was slightly more than my request.

My request was based largely on the cost of repairs and left the value of the land as originally assessed. I figured the lot is worth what is is worth. The Board of review reduced the values of both the land and the structure. Together they come up to about $3,000 more than I requested. I guess they did that to make some kind of point.

Now all I have to do is convince my mortgage company that I don't owe the original estimated tax, and that it's not really due yet.

It is the first instance of local government working well that I can recall. The review process was respectful, effective and reasonable. That of course does not make up for the fact that it really shouldn't have been necessary at all or that the Assessors shouldn't have screwed up so badly to begin with.

In related news the Sewerage & Water Board and the Audubon Commission have voted to roll back their millages. The City Council has asked all agencies to do the same thing. The Mayor has floated the idea of a small roll forward to raise a few million new dollars, but the reaction to that was cool.

One of the serious problems we have in our community is a lack of confidence in our government. I have a positive dread of ever going to City Hall, because of the almost unlimited amount of stupidity and indifference encountered on every visit. If our governmental agencies could simply provide efficient respectful services, most people would have a much higher level of confidence.

I do have to point out the the level of stupidity encountered at City Hall is not limited to City Employees, they have to deal with what must seem to them to be an endless supply of stupidity coming at them from uninformed citizens intent on some personal exception to the law. But that may have its roots in wide spread perception that some privileged people are able to do whatever they wish.

Perhaps the handling of this property reassessment is a small start.


bayoustjohndavid said...

About the stupidity and indifference at City Hall, I observed a predictable, yet still infuriating, change over a few months in late 2005/early 2006. Between the time I was laid off by the city in October and started working for Tulane in May, I brought my monthly COBRA payment down to City Hall because of the unreliable mail service. It was obvious that the attitude of city employees quickly changed from thankful to be working and aware of how dependent on them the people that they served were to surly and resentful of having to work harder because of the workforce reduction to aware that they didn't need to work harder, they had an excuse for things not getting done. I've often thought about posting about it, but since I would be writing about City Hall, it would be pointless and possibly harmful. If somebody actually noticed, the one competent, diligent employee in the insurance office would probably get blamed for not doing enough. BTW, I thought I observed that change throughout the building when I used any pretext to walk around and observe the building, generally it meant having a ready-made question if approached by a security guard or supervisor-type. And Nagin and Brenda Hatfield have the audacity to say that city employees are working twice as hard due to the layoffs.

mominem said...

Thats an interesting observation. I don't go to City Hall often enough to observe the changes over time that closely.

It fits with something I once read about psycology and sociology of disasters. There appears to be an strong universal reaction for people to become energized and reach out to help others after a major disaster.

Of course that eventually wears off and people begin working through their own personal emotions.