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A Deeper Look at County Tax Glitch

November 13, 1994

This letter is a response to the article "Officials Fume Over Tax Glitch" (Oct. 26).

I am a tax agent and work on the side of the property owners.

However, I believe your indictment of the county officials is exaggerated, and the $1.7 million you claim the county lost is blatantly overstated.

A little closer look at the situation and you could have come to that conclusion yourself:

* When the property owners filed their appeals, they believed the assessed value was higher than the market value, which means they believed the county was collecting too much tax to begin with.

* Even if the appeals had been scheduled within the two-year deadline, the vast majority would have had their assessed values reduced to some extent anyway. Maybe not as low as the amount requested, but nevertheless the values would have been lowered. And many likely would have received the values they requested.

Had you been more thorough in your investigation, the $1.7 million would have been significantly reduced (but of course that would have diminished the impact of your "story").

I acknowledge that some mistakes were made by the county.

However, I believe your inaccurate characterization of the amounts involved is a significant mistake, which could have been avoided with a little more professional journalistic scrutiny.

Who is going to write the headline story about your mistakes?

BARRY GARCIA

Huntington Beach

$10.7 million! That's the amount The Times reported has been lost to the Orange County coffers because "somehow" tax assessment protests were allowed to lapse.

The county assessor and (appeals board) clerk are pointing fingers at each other.

The tragedy and irony is that $10.7 million is almost exactly the amount the county library system needs to restore reductions in library hours, staff and books.

So, who will suffer? Not the ones responsible, but Orange County library patrons!

BEATRICE HOFFMAN

Dana Point

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