County Assessor Larry Stone is mailing letters to just over 15 percent of all County property owners in Santa Clara County, apologizing for the incorrect information contained in their assessment notification post card mailed on May 9. Stone’s letter also provides the correct information. The vendor responsible for this printing error, has accepted full responsibility for the problem, and will pay the entire cost of printing and mailing the corrected notices.
While the mistake was the result of a printing error by the East Bay vendor retained to print, process and mail the notification card, Assessor Stone took full responsibility and is apologizing to the 80,000 affected property owners. “I am very sorry for any confusion created by the incorrect notification card,” Stone said. “Taxpayers can be assured that the information and data in the Assessor’s computer system is accurate and has not been compromised.”
Discovered on Monday morning (May 12, 2008), the Assessor’s Office moved quickly to identify which property owners received the incorrect notice. “Initially, we did not know whether or not incorrect notices had been delivered to all 471,000 property owners in the county. We did not want to send corrections to those who had received correct information in the first place as that would just add to the confusion. My staff’s quick response enabled us to narrow the problem to 12 zip codes,” said Stone. However, the Assessor’s Office and the vendor were unable to further narrow the universe of impacted taxpayers within those zip codes. To be cautious and ensure every impacted property owner is noticed, the vendor is mailing to every property owner in the zip codes listed below, which means some property owners will receive a second notice with identical information. The zip codes impacted are:
In an effort to avoid long waits on the phone or at the customer service counter compounding taxpayers frustrations, the Assessor’s entire Real Property Division, over 90 appraisers and support staff, were temporarily redeployed to answer calls from property owners. By the end of the day, staff had spoken directly to over 1,700 taxpayers, and hits to the Assessor’s website had tripled, a new record for the department. “My staff truly pulled together, it was incredible. I also want to thank the news media which helped get the word out immediately, substantially reducing the number of calls during the remainder of the week,” said Stone.