July 3, 2009 (San Diego)—Jeff Olson, who currently serves as Chief of Assessment Services for the County, has announced plans to run for the County Tax Assessor/Recorder/Clerk position in June 2010. If elected he pledges, “I will always be an advocate for the taxpayer and will ensure that no taxpayer is paying more in property tax than they are legally responsible for. Also I will work with our State Legislators to protect Proposition 13 and amend poorly written property tax laws already in place.”
Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 proposition, capped property taxes and reduced them by an average of 57%. Former County Tax Assessor Greg Smith once called for amending Prop 13, which he noted had sharply reducing local revenues in the 1980s. Recently, Prop 13 has come under criticism by many who blame Prop 13 for the state’s budget crisis. But Olson disputes that contention. He notes that in 1984, the assessed valuation in San Diego County was $61; in 2009 it is estimated at $399 billion. The AV has risen annually over the past 25 years, with the exception of a modest dip this year that he attributes to “unbridled demand for real estate caused by the sub-prime lending practices of the early 2000s.”
Olson says he wants to expand provisions of the Revenue and Taxation code to better serve the public, including programs to help the disabled and disaster victims. He adds, “I believe in being very proactive when it comes to the taxpayers. This includes public outreach and educational programs to better educate and inform taxpayers.” He praises current efforts by the Assessor’s office to process record numbers of property tax reductions. “Thousands of taxpayers are receiving temporary reductions in their assessed values due to the current downturn in our real estate market, without having to ask.”
Among other duties, the County Tax Assessor/Recorder/Clerk performs marriage ceremonies. Locally and in other jurisdictions, the issue has arisen of whether or not to require employees who object to gay marriages to perform ceremonies. Asked what his policy would be if a federal court challenge, legislation or future initiative should declare same-sex marriage legal again in California, Olson replied, “The California Government Code requires that all employers make an effort to accommodate the religious beliefs of their employees. I would, of course, attempt to accommodate any objections from staff should same gender marriages be declared legal in the future.”
Olson holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in finance. He started with the Assessor’s office in 1990 as property assessment specialist and has since accumulated 13 years of appraisal experience. He also holds an advanced appraisal certificate from the State Board of Equalization.
For more information on his candidacy, visit www.jeffolsonforsandiego.com.