Friday, September 18, 2015

Re: Fwd: tax bill question

TO: Mark Maier, Public Service Supervisor, Office of the SLO County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector

Hello Mark,

As I await your response to my email from Wednesday (reprinted below), I just had one more quick question, well, actually it's more of a "heads-up" on some errors that your department is telling the property owners of the Los Osos PZ.

For example, as I show in my email from Wednesday, you write:

"Any questions on the line item "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" should be directed to Lonnie Richardson-Lepore at Wallace & Associates, (805) 544-4011."

Well, after reading that quote, just this week, I sent Lonnie the following two emails:

- - -
Hello Lonnie,

Mark Maier, Public Service Supervisor of the San Luis Obispo County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector's office wrote:

"Any questions on the line item "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" should be directed to Lonnie Richardson-Lepore at Wallace & Associates..."

I do have a quick question about that line item.

I've noticed how, for the past 12 years or so, the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" line always seemed to hover around $225, but this year, it's "$233.98."

Here's a screenshot from a recent LOPZ tax bill:


See? "$233.98" for a "LOCSD waste treatment" system (when a "LOCSD waste treatment" system will now never exist, but I digress.)

Now, last year, I exposed at this link:


... how the LOCSD recently issued "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment refund checks to seven (that I know of) of their friends.

So, now I'm curious: Is the reason the OTHER "more than 4,000" LOPZ property owners are stuck paying an extra $8.00/assessment/year -- for a non-project that will now never exist -- is because of the assessment refunds that the LOCSD issued to their friends and/or neighbors?

It just seems like, maybe, due to those assessment refunds to just the LOCSD's friends, that there might be now some sort of "shortfall" in collecting that assessment, and THAT's why the OTHER "more than 4,000" LOPZ property owners -- the ones that did NOT get a refund -- are now stuck paying an extra $8.00/assessment/year?

Is that what accounts for that extra $8/year? To make up for the LOCSD's refund-to-their-friends shortfall? Or, is it something else?

As always, much thanks,
Ron
- - -

She didn't respond to that email, so, I then sent her this email:

- - -
Hello Lonnie,

As I wait for a reply to my email that I sent you yesterday, I just have one more quick question involving the Wallace Group collecting the assessments for the LOCSD.

I was reading the SLO County government's "special assessments" page, at this link:


... and on that page, it shows that the LOCSD is the only CSD in the County that does not collect its own "special assessments," and instead, contracts that work out to a private company, your company -- The Wallace Group.

Here's my question, if I conducted a California Public Records Act for any/all documents from your office associated with a LOCSD "special assessment" collection, would your office, considering the Wallace Group is a private company, be legally obligated to provide the documents, like all the other CSD's in the county would be legally obligated to?

I'd like to do a PRA request for some LOCSD documents out of your office, but the PRA only applies to government agencies, [so] if you're not legally obligated to comply (because The Wallace Group is a private company, and not a government agency, even though you do contract work for a government agency), I won't even waste my, and your, time trying.

So, if I did a PRA request for LOCSD documents, would you comply?

Thanks again,
Ron
- - -

Well, she finally got back to me, and here's what she wrote, yesterday:

- - -
Good Afternoon Mr. Crawford:
 
I have received your emails dated 9/16 & 9/17. I have clear direction to run all inquiries through LOCSD General Manager, Kathy Kivley. Unless the District has given authorization for you to pursue these questions with me directly, I am unable to assist at this time. I am certain that the District will contact me if my assistance is necessary.
 
Best Regards,
 
Lonnie E. Lepore | SENIOR PROJECT ANALYS
- - -

So that's the error that I wanted to give you a "heads-up" on: The office of SLO County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector is telling the citizens of SLO County (especially the property owners of the Los Osos PZ) to contact Lonnie Richardson-Lepore, at Wallace & Associates, for "any questions on the line item "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT," yet, when someone does exactly that, Lonnie tells them, "I am unable to assist at this time."

So, clearly, this:

"Any questions on the line item "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" should be directed to Lonnie Richardson-Lepore at Wallace & Associates, (805) 544-4011."

... is not accurate.

Additionally, on the above-referenced SLO County government's "special assessments" web page, it states that the "Contact Office" for "Special Assessment" "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT," is "Wallace and Associates."

Again, obviously, that is not accurate.

So now, I just have two more very quick questions:

1) Who is the real "contact office" for "line item LOCSD WASTE TREATMT?" (Because, obviously, it's not "Wallace and Associates," and my questions are still outstanding, so, it's very important for my story that I find out, from your office, the real "contact office" for "line item LOCSD WASTE TREATMT."

and;

2) When will your office update your web site to reflect the accurate contact, and clean up that glaring, and extremely important... uh, "error?"

Thanks again,
Ron

- - - - - - -
Here's the email I sent on 9/16/15
- - - - - - -

Hello Mark,

I'm researching a story, and, in an email (reprinted below) from March 30, 2015, to a Los Osos property owner inquiring about the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment that appears on "more than 4,000" LOPZ property owners' tax bills, you write:

"Several years ago, the Los Osos Community Service District (LOCSD) established a contract with "The Wallace Group" to begin the Los Osos Wastewater treatment facility.  This project was never completed, however bills are still outstanding.  As a result, the Wallace Group had been collecting on bills, which are indicated by "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT".

I'm just curious, why was that project "never completed?" If you don't know the answer, could you please direct me to someone in SLO County government that knows the answer to that question. I would really appreciate it.

Also, how much longer are the "bills... still outstanding?" In other words, how long will the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment appear on the tax bills... for a "project" that was "never completed?" Years? Decades?

I mean, it just seems like such an obvious, and important question, yet a question that doesn't seem to have an official answer: Thousands of LOPZ property owners are being taxed for a project that will never exist?

Huh?

That situation doesn't seem to make any sense.

So, you know, what happened with the project? Was it exposed to be some sort of "infeasible" disaster AFTER the assessment passed, and that's why it was "never completed?"

Something like that?

Sounds like a great story.

Thanks!
Ron


Begin forwarded message:
From: ttc@co.slo.ca.us
Date: March 30, 2015 at 1:58:28 PM PDT

Subject: Re: tax bill question
Dear [name redacted],

Thank you for your email regarding property address [redacted] in Los Osos.

Several years ago, the Los Osos Community Service District (LOCSD) established a contract with "The Wallace Group" to begin the Los Osos Wastewater treatment facility.   This project was never completed, however bills are still outstanding.  As a result, the Wallace Group had been collecting on bills, which are indicated by "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT".  

Currently, a new waste treatment facility is being established and is funded by a bond measure.  This collection has been indicated on bills as "SLO AD 1-LO SWR-USDA", and is being administered through the SLO County Public Works Department.  For further questions about these two assessments, both agencies have separate contact information.
Any questions on the line item "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" should be directed to Lonnie Richardson-Lepore at Wallace & Associates, (805) 544-4011.

Any questions regarding the line item "SLO AD 1-LO SWR-USDA" should be referred to Ken Cardoza at SLO County Public Works Dept, (805) 781-5294.

Sincerely,
Mark Maier
Public Service Supervisor
Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector
San Luis Obispo County
(805) 781-5889


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sewerwatch.blogspot.com

2 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Richard LeGros, at 3:43 PM, September 25, 2015  

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    By Blogger almostakbl company, at 12:15 PM, April 11, 2017  

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