• Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

WeHo’s Jeff Prang seeks another term as county assessor

ByWillie M. Evans

May 22, 2022

Let’s start with the basics: what is the evaluator and what do you do?

For those unfamiliar with the assessor, I am one of three county elected officials – the other two being the sheriff and the district attorney, and I administer a department of approximately 1,200 employees in six different offices in across the county.

Our office is responsible for appraising all taxable real estate in LA County, which includes both land and buildings, in addition to appraising the value of personal business property – which includes furniture. , equipment and machinery.

Let me be very clear on one thing, however, I am not the one collecting the taxes. I am not a revenue department, in itself. The guy who collects the taxes has a very intuitive title; his name is the Tax collector! My job is to establish the value of all taxable property in the county, including land, buildings, and commercial property, as well as commercial and general aviation aircraft, boats, mobile homes, and even racehorses. .

I manage the largest local property assessment agency in the United States and am responsible for the annual assessment of over 2.5 million real estate parcels and business appraisals.

The property tax system is relatively complicated and the assessor is only one part of a larger operation. There are several other departments that we work closely with and each of them has a different element of the property tax administrative system. The two main departments we work with are the auditor-controller as well as the tax-collecting treasurer.

Here’s how it works, when my office receives copies of deeds from the clerk-recorder, or city building permits, we then complete the value assessment, the auditor-controller then determines the amount of property taxes due , then the treasurer- The tax collector sends the bills and collects the payments.

So you’re running for re-election to the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office. Why should we care? What does the Assessor’s Office mean to the West Hollywood resident or business?

Although the assessor is an elective function little known or understood, he plays an essential role in local administration. I always like to say that we are the most important government agency because no other government agency can do their job until I do mine. And, if I don’t do it right and completely, then property tax revenues that should be allocated to vital public services, including public education, public safety and public health, etc. are not perceived and these services will in turn suffer.

Each year, I am constitutionally responsible for preparing the annual assessment roll, which is essentially the inventory of all taxable property in the county. This year, we expect property values ​​across the county to increase by 6% and generate more than $18 billion in property taxes that will be allocated to cities, school districts and county departments. The total assessed value of all taxable properties in Los Angeles County is close to $1.9 trillion.

Again, well, I am not responsible for the revenue, doing my job thoroughly and completely will ensure that all revenue will eventually be collected.

For West Hollywood, property taxes are a very important source of local revenue that funds streets, parks, libraries, city employee salaries, and social services that support so many residents in need. Additionally, the sheriff’s department, county hospitals, and other county departments that West Hollywood residents rely on, as well as the LA Unified School District that serves the city, all rely on revenue that begins with assessments. for which my office is responsible.

There was a controversy in the previous administration at the appraiser’s office, you came to clean it up. What have you done?

That’s right, my predecessor was charged with corruption and is awaiting trial on those charges.

When I was elected, I acted quickly to restore integrity and public confidence in the office, introducing sweeping reforms to ensure that our work is done fairly, accurately and with the highest level of care. ‘integrity. We have implemented many new policies and practices, as well as new technologies, which will make abuse of the system nearly impossible to achieve. I am very proud that my efforts have been recognized by the Los Angeles Times and the Daily News, and that my department has received the highest honor available to any public rating agency. the international association of appraising officers (IAAO), their Certificate of Excellence in Administration Assessment.

So what are you most proud of?

There are several things that I am very proud of; the first is a major project to replace our old outdated technology system. When I was elected, I inherited a 1970s/1980s era, main frame, green screen, DOS-based technology platform. It would have been funny if it wasn’t real. In addition, the 2.5 million real estate parcels and commercial appraisals for which I am responsible were each associated with a paper file. We launched a major transformation program to move to a cloud-based system, we digitized all our documents, and we did it with a development methodology that allowed us to stay on schedule without significant setbacks. I have studied closely the debacles that occurred previously with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s billing system and the Los Angeles Unified School District payroll system, each of which presented challenges important implementation challenges, and we used a development approach designed to avoid these pitfalls, and I might add that we did so successfully.

More recently, I launched a new and innovative jobs program for workforce development. Working with local community colleges, I moved training for a number of specialty positions within my office to local community colleges. Through this approach, I can ensure a reliable stream of qualified candidates, while providing good job opportunities for community college students. We have previously trained a class of real estate appraisers at West Los Angeles College and are currently training assistant appraisers at Rio Hondo College.

I am also proud of our efforts to increase public awareness of the Office of the Assessor and the programs and services we offer. The property tax system is very complicated and sometimes difficult to navigate. I’ve placed a high priority trying to sort this out so people can get what they need quicker and simpler.

If re-elected, what’s next?

My three main goals for the next term are: (1) the completion of our technology replacement project, which still has approximately 12 to 18 months to complete; (2) expanding our workforce development program to help fill vacancies more quickly to ensure we can complete our annual work; and (3) reduce the backlog of assessment appeals by implementing new efficiency measures that will help the county quickly and fairly resolve landowner disputes about their assessments.

Los Angeles County Appraiser Jeff Prang leads the nation’s largest local public property appraisal agency. Its office of over 1,200 assessors and support staff is dedicated to creating an accurate and timely property assessment roll. This year, the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office completed more than 2.5 million real estate and business appraisals worth more than $1.7 trillion. Prang is a former WeHo City Council member.