Blogger Alex Tiahnyok, a former Pleasant Prairie village board member, makes an interesting, albeit vitriolic, point about municipal property assessments in the wake of declining values.
After making his point, however, Alex continues (emphasis as in the original): "MAKE SURE YOUR local ASSESSOR'S OFFICE knows about this. KEEP REMINDING THEM THAT THE SAME JUSTIFICATION USED TO JACK UP YOUR ASSESSMENTS NOW MUST BE USED IN REVERSE DIRECTION!"
I'm not making this up. That's the exact comment and emphasis he uses. Then he gives village assessor's name, address, telephone number and E-mail address followed by (again, emphasis in the original): "DON'T BE HESITANT TO CALL. HE AND HIS TEAM ARE NOT AFRAID TO GO INTO YOUR HOME AND POKE AROUND, SO WHY SHOULD YOU HESITATE TO CALL HIM AT HIS WORKPLACE. AFTERALL, HE IS A PUBLIC SERVANT.I AM TALKING ABOUT YOUR MONEY FROM YOUR POCKET -- DEMAND CHANGE!!!"
Let's parse this out.
First, the question is good. But Alex could have called Rocco Vita, the village assessor, for an answer himself and, by all means, post his comments and perhaps even a critque of the response. Here he appears to launch a condemnation of Rocco Vita without any foundation for his attack.
Second, there's nothing necessarily wrong about calling, writing or E-mailing Rocco. Several years ago his office was next to mine and, I'll tell you this, if you ask Rocco a question, you'll get an answer. It may not always be the answer that you or I may like to hear, but he'll give you one -- and usually in great detail. Rocco is a true professional who knows his stuff.
Third, there's the bit, though, about calling Rocco "a public servant" who "pokes around" your home.
Folks, slavery was outlawed in 1862. Rocco is a public employee, not a servant. Yes, public employees serve the public and, yes, they are accountable for their actions, but the tenor of the comment is vitriolic and insulting. Plus, in order to make a fair assessment, the assessors need to inspect the property. That cuts both ways, too. A property that may look great on the outside may only be in fair condition inside (and vice versa).
Finally, the exhortation "DEMAND CHANGE" is insulting because it intimates that there is something that needs to be changed. Alex may be right -- change may be needed. But since he didn't bother to state the full case before going off, how does he know that there won't be a revision of property values as he suggests? In that case, what change would he propose?
The basic premise Alex made -- shouldn't property assessments be reduced if property values fall -- is appropriate. But that question then launches into an attack without foundation. If Rocco (who, by the way, I haven't always agreed with) said there's no way assessments will be adjusted, then Alex would have a valid criticism. But how do you bum rap the guy or demand change when you haven't done your homework?
And yes, the assessor is answerable to the village administrator and village board. If there are concerns to be shared or reminders to be made, the village board is the place to start.