Edgar County Assessor

Elected Tax Assesor Forced to Resign – Conflict of Interest

EDGAR CO. –

David Wright of Kansas is the Deputy Assessor in the County Assessors office.  He was also the elected multi-township assessor for Kansas, Grandview and Buck Townships. 

After over a year of investigating and fact-finding it became clear everyone’s expressed concerns that holding both offices was a conflict of interest are in fact true. 

This was one of those situation where pretty much everyone knew it was wrong considering he would be in a position as a Deputy Assessor to review his own work performed as a Multi-township assessor. 

The challenge was getting anyone to listen and read.  As many of you know the resistance to fixing things in this county is overwhelming.  After months of hitting brick walls we came across an opinion from the Attorney Generals office specifically on this very subject. 

http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/1993/93-017.pdf

We forwarded that opinion to a county board member who presented it to the States Attorney. Shortly thereafter we received a copy of Mr. Wright’s resignation letter.  Dave Wright Resignation

Note that in Mr. Wright’s resignation letter he reports he has been doing this since 1986.  That leads to a pretty simple question.  How is it that for 26 years no one has either recognized or even asked if there was a conflict of interest? 

Why did I look into this so hard?  because Mr. Wright is our Kansas Tax Assessor.  Our house property and farm out buildings have not changed since 1961.  The actual footprint of our property has not changed since it was established in 1901.  Then last year we received a tax bill that raised our taxes 104% on our home property.  Upon investigating our own tax records we found numerous errors and the responses we got pertaining to those errors was enough to piss off the pope!

Q. Your records report that our house has a finished attic.  How did you determine that?

A. You have curtains in the windows.

Truth: Our attic is not a finished attic and I invited them out to prove it.  They corrected it on the recording and reduced our tax!

Q. Your records report that we have a full finished cement basement.  How did you determine that?

A. It has windows in it.

Truth: Our home was built-in 1901 on a foundation of Bricks with a half cellar with brick walls.  So you see our home does not have a full finished cement basement.  It got corrected and reduced our tax.

Q. The outside dimensions you have for our home are not correct.  Who measured it?

A. Those measurements were taken by a group of High School students as part of a class project.

Truth: Tax assessor collected pay for work he never did or had someone else do and because of that we have paid more in taxes because of their error!

Q. Your records show a building on our property that does not exist and has not since 1962.

A. It’s not my job to remove the buildings you take down.  If you don’t tell us it stays on the tax record. 

Truth: We elected a person to do his job, which was property assessment.  Something I think we can all agree is happening to often, even though the economy is down, our assessments keep climbing.  If he was doing his job then he would see that there is no building there and the card in their office should be corrected.  This is a perfect example of a conflict of interest.  He is supposed to be working for WE THE PEOPLE on one hand and ensuring we are treated fairly and accurately yet he does nothing to correct the tax card in his capacity as Deputy Assessor.  Building was removed from the record and reduced our tax.

Q. Why did my property boundary change.  Nothing has changed since this property was built and the building locations have not changed in 50 years yet now you have doubled my lot size. 

A. We have a new program that uses areal imagery to measure your lot.  It wasnt measured properly in the past so you have had less tax all this time.

Truth: So for over 50 years each and every time an assessor comes out and assesses our property they did it wrong?  NO, that is not it at all.  If it is, they should have all been fired and forced to return their pay for not doing their job.  The truth of the matter is the County is broke and it’s the assessors office that controls the money flow coming in. Easiest way to do that is increase lot sizes on property with a new program.  They changed our lot size as a means to increase my taxes, in my opinion!  There is no foundation to change a lot size that has been the same for over 100 years.  They refused our request to correct this wrong.  Here in lies a huge conflict of Interest!

Now that we have proof a conflict of interest was clear it would seem logical that everything Mr. Wright did in those capacities that raised our taxes should be reversed.  It was wrong and We The People paid the price. 

While addressing this matter I saw people come into the tax assessors office who had their boundaries changed as well and increased their taxes, in some cases 600 percent.  I know I am not the only one that this has happen to so how many others are willing to stand up and fight this ongoing increase of our property taxes?

Q. Why have all our creeks on our farm property been changed from wasteland to tillable ground, or CRP ground?

A. The computer does that.  We will correct it.  Just tell us where the creeks are and we will fix it.

Truth: Someone programmed the computer to do what it does!  If you don’t catch this stuff, your ground that was considered waste ground as the lowest tax there is now gets dumped into a higher tax bracket and you pay.  They KNOW it’s happening but are silent and unless you bring it up you pay the price. We got it corrected and reduced our tax.

This is not an isolated case either.  Locally one of our largest farm owners in the area went through the same thing I did. 

If we have elected officials who only look for things that raise our taxes and ignore those that reduce them we have a major problem.  

We The People are to be represented by our elected officials in a manner that is fair and just.  I think it’s clear from just this one example, the single events that happened to me lay out a very clear picture these people have forgotten they are public service employees.  They are not placed there to make our life harder to live yet that is what is happening.

Why has this happened?  Because We The People have let it happen.  We became complacent and so busy making a living we didn’t take time to get involved.  I am of the opinion not getting involved is like not having car insurance.  It,s too late to get it after an accident.   

Get involved people and stand up for your rights as citizens and ask bold questions.  The truth has no agenda! 

 

 

 

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