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The Consultant Turns the County Down

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*Submitted by former Cornelius Town Commissioner Jim Bensman.

You will have read in the Observer that Debbie King decided not to accept the consultant position offered her by the County.  The reason is easy to understand.  The County was not prepared to give her the authority or the time to get the job done.

If you watched the County Commission meetings it is also easy to see why.  Weeks are spent discussing the amount of her contract ($50,000) and limiting the duration to 12 weeks when the accumulating interest on the estimated $25M in refunds due residents accumulates at a rate of over $3,400 a day!

Some members of the BOCC refuse to consider that the County must now redo the 2011 Revaluation as compelled by State legislation estimated to cost (by Staff) between $7M and $9M without a full time qualified Assessor on the job.  Does anyone really believe that a top notch individual would accept the Assessor position under these circumstances?  One candidate already turned the full time position down and now Debbie won’t even do the consultant job.  Isn’t there a message there???

Some of the BOCC refuse to accept the fact that Interim Manager Bobby Shields is a major road block to solving this problem.  He has refused to give up the Assessor position while also having the full time job of County Manager.  He has insisted that the Assessor position report to the Finance Director, Dena Diorio, who may be a capable Finance Director but has no experience whatsoever in the Assessor function. He continues to publicly maintain that this was a customer service failure when that is a complete falsehood!

While there reportedly are not enough votes to do the “right thing”. the “right thing” is to appoint Debbie King as an interim Assessor reporting directly to the BOCC.  That once a new County Manager is hired, have he/she participate in the selection of a new Assessor.  Give her the authority to fix the department and implement S159.

The BOCC should review its Resolution passed last November to ascertain how much of their direction has been implemented. They will be severely disappointed if told the truth.  I am told the Staff now wants to write an RFP for the selection of an outside firm to implement the State legislation.  To start on this now is a reflection of total incompetence.  The Bill has not changed since it was introduced months ago.  At every step of the way, the votes in both Houses and all committees have been unanimous. That also means that every member of the Mecklenburg delegation, regardless of party, have voted for this legislation.

County Staff is clearly opposed to fixing the 2011 Revaluation and are on their way to failing to heed the directive of the State legislature.  One can only wonder how successful the County will be in getting State support for other issues when their opinion of the County must be very low.

In the meantime, taxpayers continue to be badly treated by the Assessor’s office and County attorneys.  The unfair tax burden continues, no municipality on the County can possible know what their assessed valuations should be in order to plan their budgets.

Karen Bentley and the Commissioners trying to get this fixed need public support.  It is 31 months since this failure and it is still not being addressed.

Watching this from Colorado is sure frustrating.  I cannot believe this matter is not resolved. One can only wonder at what other issues exist in County government when such a public failure just cannot be fixed.  Oh my or my!

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