Assessor Plot Thickens

By Loudoun Insider

Things have been pretty quiet with the Todd Kaufman lawsuit after the BOS fired him.  But it’s clear that they have plans for his office, and many people think getting rid of Kaufman was the first step in injecting more politics into assessments.

First a Leesburg Today article on redoing the county’s financial system touches on some of this.  County staff are trying to put off any major restructuring until this is complete.  The best thing in that article is Government Reform Commission member/local political grand poobah 10th Congressional republican Committee Chairman John Whitbeck saying the county needs to expand and add more staff.  More big government nonsense and increased spending, kind of like what he foisted on the Lansdowne HOA when he was President.

Then we get more to the meat of the matter with this Leesburg Today article asking who should control the Assessor’s office.  It looks like this is more about who controls the process than doing a good job.  Surely it is, because by all accounts, even the County Administrator’s last assessment, Todd Kaufman did an outstanding job of restoring professionalism to the Assessor’s office.  But he had to go so they could argue about who control sit.

Once again the political hacks running the Government Reform Commission are running the show.  By the accounts I have read it appears as if county department heads go in front of these people and grovel.  All because the Government Reform Commission is comprised of the political lackeys put in charge of doing the dirty work of the supervisors and handing them pre-ordained recommendations in my opinion.

Commissioner of the Revenue Bob Wertz is right in the middle of this, and has been stated by many for months now, Wertz wants the Assessor’s Office.  Apparently Grand Poobah Whitbeck will be leading this portion of the Government Reform Commission’s agenda.  But nowhere in that article is it mentioned that Wertz serves as a political sidekick to Whitbeck as his Finance Chairman of the 10th District Republican Committee.  Loudoun Progress lays it out well.  But hey, what do you expect when you have single party rule?

How in the world could Bob Wertz think it was a good idea to take this position?  Did he volunteer for it, or was he pressured into it?  It sounds like someone had a chit to call in with Wertz and used it to help prop up and legitimize Whitbeck.  This gets Wertz nothing other than grief while legitimizing Whitbeck who was propped into this position with zero local party experience.  Someone sold Wertz a bad bill of goods.

I’d rather my elected officials in charge of tax matters focus on the task at hand and not complicate things by getting overly political.  But this is LoCo Loudoun County – what the hell am I thinking.


Comments

  • BOEbullies says:

    OMG! John Whitbeck in charge of restructuring the county’s revenue stream? Have they lost their minds? Are they not aware of the waste, absence of transparency, and great parties in the Lansdowne HOA’s $7.2 million revenue stream after five years of Whitbeck’s leadership?

    Who is in charge of the BOE, an “independent body, separate and apart from the Board of Supervisors and any department/division of the Loudoun County government” that arranges land use status for some of its members and friends in high places?

    After winning its $100,000 “case of the century” in General District Court, the BOE no longer maintains the pretense that it observes the Virginia FOIA requirements to post its agenda, or hearing calendar and conducts its business with no oversight or accountability to anyone. Where is the BOE’s minder, the Loudoun Circuit Court? Are any judges going in for land use status this year?

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Maybe if we had a real press corps they would look into all this. But it’s a lot easier to pull quotes from a meeting and re-print press releases. Could we please get Mike Laris back for a year or two???

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    And I doubt Whitbeck is really in charge, he’s just the front guy.

  • BOEbullies says:

    Maybe so but please.
    Can someone cite one single credential that John Whitbeck has to substantiate this appointment other than the political machinations of everyone endorsing everyone else prior to the November election.
    Name one single thing that qualifies John Whitbeck to evaluate the effectiveness of the tax assessor’s office.

  • BOEbullies says:

    If John Whitbeck lives in Lansdowne his neighbors are probably pressing him to get assessments back up so they can sell somewhere near what they bought for, before that high school gridlocks the neighborhood for the rest of time.

  • Charlie King says:

    Bob Wertz is one of the most honest, dedicated and professional public servants I have ever met. Rather than speculate about a link between his office and his role on the 10th District Republican Finance Committee, I suggest you ask you ask him directly whether he has any interest in supervising the assessor’s office. I hate to burst your bubble, but if you do so, I believe you will learn there is no behind-the-scences kabuki dance/power play going on. Like the rest of us, Mr. Wertz is merely an observer of the Kaufmann litigation and has taken no efforts whatsoever to transfer the assessor functions to his office.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I like Bob Wertz. He does his job well and isn’t a wingnut. But I still don’t like seeing him as a Whitbeck underling. And while I like Charlie King as well (who also does his job well and isn’t a wingnut), he is a Whitbeck underling as well, serving on the Wertz Finance Committee. And even if I asked anyone involved in any kind of power play, they surely wouldn’t tell me if that is what was going on. The Kaufman episode is a huge black eye for this BOS, and Government Reform Commission is a political hack job.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    From the LTM:

    “Noteworthy among the group’s new committees is Loudoun County Commissioner of Revenue Robert Wertz’s proposed appointment to chair the District Committee’s Finance Committee.

    A longtime member of the 10th District GOP Committee, Wertz said he “welcomes the appointment” and is “happy to serve.” He noted it’s not uncommon for an elected commissioner of revenue to take on an appointed duty from a regional policital body.

    “Making sure our committee’s transparent, especially from a finances standpoint is something I’m really going to be focusing on,” Wertz said. “And making sure our reporting is done on time and accurate.”

    In addition to Wertz, Thomas Reed, treasurer of the Fredrick County Republican Committee, Shak Hill, acting 10th District treasurer, attorney Charles King, Mary Campbell, Fairfax County representative to the 10th District and Marianne Horinko, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator and attorney were proposed for appointment to the finance committee.”

    If this is basically a treasurer’s job, why didn’t it go to Roger Zurn?

  • BOEbullies says:

    What is lost on these people is the hopelessly inappropriate effect of blending partisan politics with government. Obviously Werth realizes it as per his defensive comment about how it’s not at all unusual..

  • Good observations. It was an interesting meeting that provided some visibility into the personalities of the players and the apparent coaching of both elected officials and staff. I’m going to publish analysis on Loudoun Progress later in the week.

    FYI, staff pushed back, rather firmly, against Mr. Whitbeck’s offer to “help”/augment them. Ben Mays explained that staff has 5,000-7,000 individual specifications to be tested. Staff is busy doing their job and implementing this new system. The last thing they need is “help” from somebody who doesn’t understand all those specs.

    Did you see the remark in Erika’s LCGRC article about information sharing between the CoR and the Assessors office?

    Both Wertz and White also noted that, on the commercial side, there is information collected by the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office for the business taxes—like income and expense information—that is not available to the assessor’s office.

    Does that seem feasible, that there is a legal mandate that prevents information sharing between the Assessor and CoR offices if the Assessor is under the BoS? John Whitbeck has been reviewing legal mandates in great detail. Interestingly, he didn’t ask if the above situation was a state mandate or an internal policy.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    And just what experience does John Whitbeck have in restructuring government operations??? And why is such a political figure in charge of doing this for assessments and taxes???

    This is absolutely ridiculous.

    And while there may be some interesting observations made in the article, it’s clearly obvious that the local press isn’t interested in digging any deeper.

    I look forward to your further observations, Jonathan. Send in a LTE to the papers, then maybe readers can get something truly insightful.

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