Hello everyone, Supervisor Miller here. I want to let everyone know who I am supporting for county assessor. The County Assessor’s Office needs new leadership, and I am supporting Michael Cruz. You may have heard me say, over the years, my job would be a lot easier if I had an assessor that would be willing to work with businesses in Pinal County.
First, let’s be clear what the job of the assessor is. The job is to assess the value of real and personal property, classify property based on current use. He does not make the county any money, he does not set the tax rate, he does not set policy or determine if or where tax dollars will be spent. These are the jobs of the county supervisors, not the assessor.
His budget is set by the Board of Supervisors. There is no direct stream of revenues to any elected office; the money the county receives comes from you, the Pinal County taxpayer.
Under the current leadership of the Assessor’s Office, the underlying assumption is everyone is a tax cheat and not paying their fair share. Really! The majority of the complaints/questions come from two types of businesses, ag and large corporations.
The ag community are constantly defending the use of their land. The Assessor’s Office argues that fallowed fields should be reclassified to vacant land because fallowing is not an ag function. Reclassifying ag land to vacant land increases their taxes. In some cases the increase can be 10 times the tax burden.
The assessor also argues with corporations on what is personal property or what is real property. This ends up costing these businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in accountants’ fees. All this arguing back and forth with the Assessor’s Office has resulted in dislike for the county and gives the perception of anti-business, not a friendly environment.
Let’s not overlook the hundreds of thousands of tax dollars our current assessor has caused the county to spend on outside attorneys for the legal actions. He lost at both the lower court and the appellate court, which resulted in the county paying our outside attorney fees, the defendant’s attorney fees and the overpaid taxes collected. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out of your tax dollars. He claims the county attorney told him to do it, which is not true. As an elected official he had the authority to proceed or not. He promised the Board of Supervisors that if he lost in the lower court he would not appeal, but he appealed anyway.
As far as economic development, I am called on by developers, Realtors and staff to assist when site locators are considering Pinal County. I have been in hundreds of these types of meetings. I don’t know of one time the Assessor’s Office has attended; again, his job is to assess the value of current properties, not economic development, although he claims to be part of the process.
These are some of the reasons I believe we need new leadership for the Assessor’s Office. In the short period of time I have gotten to know Michael Cruz, he has explained in detail what the role of an elected official is. It is to serve the people that elect you. He is young and very smart. He has an MBA. He is a native Arizonan. His morals and ethics have a religious foundation. This young man worked all the time while going to college. For those that are concerned that he was a Democrat during his youth, there is a long list of Republicans that had “D” beside their name and found out their values aligned with the other, conservative party. He doesn’t want to be something he isn’t.
Please join with me in supporting Michael Cruz for county assessor.
Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, is a member of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.