Tax office should be open book

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tax office should
be an open book
Regarding the July 29 articles on property revaluation and the tax assessor:
Do we have some of the Russell brigade left in key positions in Rowan County government? The Sunday article in the Salisbury Post shows we need to send a few more toward the eastern part of North Carolina. We have a longtime employee of this county who had assured commissioners the Institute of Government had been contacted, and it was their opinion that Mr. Rowland had no conflict of interest in doing private assessments. The next story is that he thought a member of the staff had done it, and finally, the third version is that it was not done. In the old days, it was called a lie. Where is the accountability?
The article’s description of the treatment of taxpayers makes it seem obvious that commissioners need to visit a neighboring county in an attempt to recruit a couple of new county tax assessors. Poll people on the street. You will find that 90 percent do not think the values were fair. Many feel making an appeal is a waste of time; others have proved it. If the assessor’s house decreased in value because it is an “older home,” then the same should have happened for the rest of us also.
Those at every level of government work for the people. The tax assessor’s office should not be run with any level of distrust or secrecy. It should be an open book. Every taxpayer should be able to see a written statement outlining how and why the taxes on their property were increased. If that is not possible, how can the assessor’s office say the process is fair?
Will county commissioners let this type of behavior continue?
ó R.W. Miller
Study gang policies
The NAACP supports the efforts of Mayor Susan Kluttz of Salisbury and county leaders to confront the gang problem in Rowan County. We realize that gangs pose a serious problem to the community.
The NAACP supports programs that are directed toward prevention and intervention. We feel that if earnest efforts are initiated to identify potential gang members, gang recruitment can be prevented. However, we cannot support Senate Bill 1358 and House Bill 274, The Street Gang Prevention Acts, as written because 90 percent of the original funds for prevention and intervention have been gutted, and the new focus of the bill is on punishment.
According to a recent study titled “Gang Wars: The failure of enforcement tactics and the need for effective public strategies” by the Justice Policy Institute of Washington, D.C., these bills and others like them are based on faulty data and turn public policy in the wrong direction that will only result in more prisons and less prevention.
The NAACP is calling for a study commission that will bring together activists and experts in prevention to develop progressive public policy that will raise the potential of our youth.
ó Dr. Bryant Norman Jr.
Bryant Norman Jr. is president of the Salisbury-Rowan branch of the NAACP.