Monday, July 23, 2012

The Property Appraiser's Race. By Geniusofdespair

Eye on Miami Photo
I am often surprised by what transpires. I reached out a few times to Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia about a month or two ago. NOT A WORD from him. I wrote him emails I even called his cell phone. I gave up. Last week Carlos Lopez-Cantera reached out to me. I was surprised. I talked to him for about 20 minutes. He likes the job Lori Parrish has done in Broward, I like that as well. We both have been in touch with the same constituent who had a problem with the Property Appraiser and could not get it resolved. He promised he would look into her problem once in office. He already sent a email on her behalf to the Property Appraiser (more than I did).  I actually changed my vote on this race after talking to him. Not that I had any strong preferences to begin with. I am not endorsing. (AFTER READING COMMENTS I CHANGED MY VOTE AGAIN - THANKS FOR THE COMMENTS PEOPLE.... You all will have to make up your own minds on this race. Neither choice is sterling -- one you can't talk to (Pedro) the other has bad ideas - Port, FIU (Carlos).)

I asked Lopez-Cantera to write about why he should be the Property Appraiser.  Here is his answer...

Dear fellow readers of Eye on Miami:

I seek your support in the upcoming August 14th election. Professionally, I am a licensed real estate agent who brings perspective on real world real estate issues through my work in the greater Miami-Dade market during the past 15 years. Also, since 2004, I have had the privilege to be elected and re-elected to serve in the Florida House of Representatives as a voice and advocate for the residents of Miami-Dade County. During this time, I championed key reforms to the property appraisal process in an effort to bring fairness to Florida’s property tax code, empower property owners and reduce property tax bills.

Miami-Dade County’s current Property Appraiser made a conscious decision when elected to maintain the status quo. Consequently, the office budget has ballooned by +10.7% since 2009/2010 while Property Appraisers throughout the rest of Florida have decreased their budgets by a combined -8.3%. Furthermore, the Value Adjustment Board (VAB) has continued to be burdened with a high volume of appeals that are granted value reductions at an alarmingly high rate of 50.5% since 2006. I believe this is in large part due to his decision not include foreclosures in the valuation of our homes, a fact reported on this very website and something I plan to reverse. In 2009 alone, the VAB reduced established values by $8 billion and property taxes by $160 million just for those who appealed. Additionally, homestead exemption fraud has grown out of control, something the current Property Appraiser repeatedly denied until receiving considerable criticism from outside groups. All the while, residents are left without direct access to services and information that they need and deserve in order to make informed decisions that directly impact their day-to-day lives.

Unfortunately, sometimes government forgets whom they are there to serve and this occurs too often in the current Property Appraisers office. Over the past several months of campaigning, I have heard various stories from residents complaining about their experiences with that office. I believe residents deserve the best service and treatment possible and I would make that a cornerstone of the culture in the office of the Property Appraiser. As such, if elected I will:

· Create a revolving front office assignment for all professional staff within the office. Presently, there are approximately 370 employees in the Property Appraiser’s Office. Each and every one, including myself, would spend at least one day a month at the front of the office rendering service to those that visit the office so that public perspective is not lost.

· Re-design the front of the office, doing away with the front counter approach that is presently used, in favor of a more open office environment. For instance, I would create several workstations similar to what you would see in a bank branch. Visitors will have the opportunity to sit at an individual desk and interact directly with a professional in the office in order to better address their concerns, questions and/ or requests.

· Interject use of new technology into the Property Appraiser’s Office. People may not have the time or ability to visit the office, however, they seek the element of human interaction that is sorely missed when calling the Property Appraiser’s Office, as all calls are automatically routed to the County’s 3-1-1 Answer Center. That is why I will seek to take advantage of live chat and video conferencing.

· Hold monthly town hall meetings throughout Miami-Dade County in order to listen to and/or address any comments, questions or concerns residents may have regarding the Property Appraiser’s Office. These meetings will also allow residents the ability to express their ideas as to what can be done to make the office better. Moreover, they will provide the office an opportunity to provide additional services to residents, such as the processing of homestead exemption applications.

These are just but a few of the reasons why I am running to become Miami-Dade County’s next Property Appraiser.


Anonymous said...

Natasha Seijas supported Garcia. Bell supports him. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

What was Lopez Cantera's position on Florida Hometown Democracy or the elimination of the Florida Dept. of Community Affairs?

Stan said...

The choice is one of two ultra conservatives. Might as well get good service. The bean counter isn't giving it. The fact that he reached out to this blog is a good sign.

Anonymous said...

Stand Your Ground, Mr. Lopez Cantera!

Anonymous said...

Yuck. If you are saying we have to choose between the bad and the worse, what have we come to. I guess it is all about money. What do they call it. The Golden Rule?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for being ignorant. What's the golden rule?

Anonymous said...

He who has the gold, rules.

Geniusofdespair said...

I would bet that Lopez Cantera is on the WRONG side of most our issues. But, if Pedro were ever a politician I would bet he would also be on the wrong side of our issues. I see him pictured at all the LBA functions during the years he has been in office.

So, which is it: As the reader said the bean counter or the politician? The bean counter hasn't done so well.

Most of Lopez Cantera's bills were real estate related over the years. He sponsored a bill to increase the Homestead Exemption in 2006. He also tried to foster a bill to freeze assessed value of homestead property that same year.

Here is a growth management bill he co-sponsored in 2006:
Growth Management: Revises provisions for filing certain interlocal agreements and amendments; encourages local governments to adopt recreational surface water use policies; provides criteria for calculating certain deviations; removes waterport and marina developments from development-of-regional-impact review; provides that vesting provisions relating to authorized developments of regional impact are not applicable to certain projects, etc.

I know this guy has serious baggage but I don't see how it will translate to the property appraiser post. He can't do much harm and his political skills might come in handy pushing back on county government.

Anonymous said...

Lopez Cantera does admit to reading your blog. That to me is a good sign, he at least sees both sides of an issue.

Anonymous said...

Did you like the way Lopez Cantera successfully introduced legislation that got the port of Miami deep dredge project through on a fast track and usurped the established legal process for appealing environmental permits? Or how about getting an exemption for the marlins stadium so they wouldn't have to pay taxes on the parking garages? What special new provisions will be provisions are in store for us out of property appraisers office if elected? Who are his campaign contributors?

Anonymous said...

Bill Kristol reads the NY Review of Books.

Anonymous said...

Lsat session Lopez Cantera also introduced legislation to let FIU swap youth fair land so fair could build on wetlands outside UDB.
Some people like his record of achievements!

Geniusofdespair said...

Sergio Pino Demetrio Perez and Miguel and George Fernandez are big supporters of Pedro Garcia (Thousands). He got $5,000 from one address. Pedro is buying a lot of gift certificates at Sedanos super market. For what purpose? I hope he isn't giving them to voters. Pedro Garcia has raised $71,720.

Carlos Lopez Cantera has raised twice that much. It doesn't surprise me since Pedro Garcia has never been a good fundraiser. Lopez Cantera has Pepe Riesco, Norman Braman, Ron Book, Al Lorenzo... in other words -- just about everyone.

Anonymous said...

The Garage exemptions was not for the Marlins. Is was do that the City would not have to pay taxes to itself. The current administration is suffering for the sins of the past admin. Looez-Cantera did the common sense thing which was to save Miami from having to take money from its radiating budget to partially pay itself taxes. No brainer there.

Geniusofdespair said...

Looks like I just changed my VOTE AGAIN: This is a deal breaker for me:

An amendment to a water management bill that would have given FIU control of the state-owned tracts in West Miami-Dade was killed at the request of the governor’s office, said House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami.

FIU had hoped to use the land in a land swap that potentially would have moved the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition to the wetlands site so the university could expand into existing fairgrounds land next door.

But Lopez-Cantera said the school could still secure the wetlands — purchased more than a decade ago for $3.7 million for a now-scrapped Everglades project — through on-going negotiations with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Read more here:

Anonymous said...

Please pass the hemlock.

Anonymous said...

Norman Braman never would have supported Carlos Lopez Cantera if he helped the Marlins. Get some sense.

Gloria said...

Lopez-Cantera was against the Genting development in downtown Miami wasn't he?

Geniusofdespair said...

Only things the property appraiser does:

CHAPTER 193: ASSESSMENTS. PART I: GENERAL PROVISIONS (ss. 193.011-193.1556). PART I. GENERAL PROVISIONS. 193.011 Factors to consider in ...

193.011 Factors to consider in deriving just valuation.
193.015 Additional specific factor; effect of issuance or denial of permit to dredge, fill, or construct in state waters to their landward extent.
193.016 Property appraiser's assessment; effect of determinations by value adjustment board.
193.017 Low-income housing tax credit.
193.018 Land owned by a community land trust used to provide affordable housing; assessment; structural improvements, condominium parcels, and cooperative parcels.
193.023 Duties of the property appraiser in making assessments.
193.0235 Ad valorem taxes and non-ad valorem assessments against subdivision property.
193.024 Deputy property appraisers.
193.052 Preparation and serving of returns.
193.062 Dates for filing returns.
193.063 Extension of date for filing tangible personal property tax returns.
193.072 Penalties for improper or late filing of returns and for failure to file returns. 193.073 Erroneous returns; estimate of assessment when no return filed.
193.074 Confidentiality of returns.

193.075 Mobile homes and recreational vehicles.
193.077 Notice of new, rebuilt, or expanded property.
193.085 Listing all property.
193.092 Assessment of property for back taxes.
193.102 Lands subject to tax sale certificates; assessments; taxes not extended.
193.114 Preparation of assessment rolls.
193.1142 Approval of assessment rolls.
193.1145 Interim assessment rolls.
193.1147 Performance review panel.
193.116 Municipal assessment rolls.
193.122 Certificates of value adjustment board and property appraiser; extensions on the assessment rolls.
193.132 Prior assessments validated.
193.133 Effect of mortgage fraud on property assessments.
193.155 Homestead assessments.
193.1551 Assessment of certain homestead property damaged in 2004 named storms. 193.1552 Assessment of properties affected by imported or domestic drywall. 193.1554 Assessment of nonhomestead residential property.
193.1555 Assessment of certain residential and nonresidential real property. 193.1556 Notice of change of ownership or control required.

Anonymous said...

Here is something the Property Appraiser will actually be doing that Carlos Lopez-Cantera actually is on the right side of (from the Miami Herald):

State examiners reviewing the use of a Miami-Dade County surtax to fund affordable housing found 13 cents of every dollar spent in fiscal 2011 went for administrative expenses.

The county government has a long history of gobbling up a big portion of the documentary surtax revenue for administrative expenses.

That prompted the Florida legislature in 2009 to pass a law that extended the real-estate transaction surtax — 45 cents per $100 except on residential units — but capped administrative spending at 10 percent of the surtax revenue collected each year.

But the county has circumvented the 10 percent limit by tapping additional funds from other sources to cover administrative costs.

For fiscal 2011, that included 14 percent of affordable-housing loan repayments, 14 percent of interest on investments, and 100 percent of all fees collected, according to a June report by the Florida legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.

For that fiscal year, ended Sept. 30, 2011, Miami-Dade’s surtax brought in $19.3 million, which meant the county could use $1.9 million on administration.

It did. But in addition, the county steered $3.1 million, or about 25 percent of all funds from loan repayments, interest on investments, and fees, to help fund administration, according to OPPAGA’s review, which was done to comply with the surtax law.

The report raised other concerns about the surtax program, saying the county doesn’t effectively track the outcomes of its surtax spending. It said many of the affordable-housing loans the county makes may never be repaid, even though they aren’t supposed to be grants.

Danielle Blake, a senior vice president of government affairs and housing for the Miami Association of Realtors, said her group had pushed for the administrative spending cap in the 2009 legislation out of concern the surtax wasn’t going to fund affordable housing. “It was definitely part of the deal we worked out that they would use no more than 10 percent of the new surtax money on administration,” she said.

Florida House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a Miami Republican who is running for the non-partisan post of Miami-Dade property appraiser, said the spirit of the 2009 legislation he sponsored was to cap administrative spending at 10 percent of surtax revenue — without supplements from other sources.

In a letter to county Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Monday, Lopez-Cantera stroked the mayor for “great strides in combating wasteful spending and making government run more efficiently,” but urged Gimenez to bring such discipline to bear on the surtax program.

Read more here:

Anonymous said...

A major reason so many properties have their value lowered is that foreclosure prices are not included in the property appraiser figures. The current appraiser does not include this, the challenger does want those foreclosures included.

Anonymous said...

I have more respect for Carlos Lopez Cantera than for Pedro Garcia. If Pedro never responds he stays out of trouble, but we don't know anything about him, he is an enigma. How does that benefit anyone but him?

Carlos Lopez-Cantera said...

Dear readers of Eye on Miami,

My Name is Carlos Lopez-Cantera and I appreciate all the comments made this morning.

I would like to offer each and every one of you this. My personal email is and if you send me an email with your phone number I will call you back by the end of the day to discuss anything about my record or my plans for the Property Appraisers office. We wont always agree but I will always be available for the discussion.

Thank you,

Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Anonymous said...

The first comment is right on the target Natasha and Lynda support Pedro Garcia.Pedro Garcia will never return correspondence or phone calls so stop wasting your time.
Lets bring a change and vote Pedro out of office. I was told that
Lynda and Pedro have been heard discussing questionable tactics to use on her enemies and friends if they do not support her. This is very sad.
Vote Carlos Lopez-Cantera as Property Appraiser for Miami-Dade County.

Anonymous said...

If the property appraiser included foreclosed properties in Determining property values you would see tax revenues plummet to crisis levels - jeopardizing county's ability to borrow and devastating impact on budget and drastic cuts to services. Is this what Lopez cantera has in mind? Is this part of the tea party vision supported by Braman. Supporters?

Anonymous said...

He stood behind former Mayor Alvarez on many issues and a public board before turning on him the second Braman flashed some cash. Forgiven, not forgotten.

Sorry, but I'll pass.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Lynda and Pedro have been heard discussing questionable tactics to use on her enemies and friends if they do not support her. This is very sad.

1 Heard by who?
2 Questionable tactics, more info please.
3 Enemies and friends will be the targets of the same tactics if either parties fail to support her. Makes no sense whatsoever!

I think you are a liar and made that whole thing up. Not surprising.

I have personally been involved with the appraiser's office and found the office to be responsive, well run and effective which is most important. I do not agree with omitting short sales and foreclosures from the valuations but I understand the logic of it.
The fact that nobody would get loans in certain neighborhoods would certainly depress the market further.

Get a life and stop with the nonsense.

Geniusofdespair said...

Just curious, have any of you actually read what he wrote?

Anonymous said...

I read it. He wants to redecorate the office.

Grillo said...

Representative Lopez Cantera is a Republican so some of his views are a bit too conservative for me. However, I voted for him for Property Appraiser because he seems to have a better disposition and attitude towards the public than the incumbent. Also, he is a lot easier on the eyes.

Anonymous said...

Seems slippery to me. He will be here, but he will be pulling strings in Tallahassee. Guys like Cantera need to have the strings cut loose so they don't have too much power.

Anonymous said...

Let's get down to what needs to be done in the property appraisers jusisdiction. To give the county more money let's go after the "SINGLE FAMILY ZONED" home owners who have several families living in their same household.

Start in Westchester then Hialeah and get the single family classification changed to duplex & if more--multi-plex. These single family owners are living too cheaply & paying too little taxes.

Follow Rule 193.023--Duties of the Property Appraiser in making assessments.... Go for it new appraiser---If elected---YOUR COUNTY NEEDS $$...


Anonymous said...

The property appraiser should never have become am elected office. Professionals not pOliticians.

Anonymous said...

Pedro gets his constituent advice from Alvarez's constituent services person... She does not respond to complaints unless you are on her list of fundraisers for her elected officials. She went from the mayor to Pedro and offers the same care to the public there she offered for Alvarez. Nasty lady. Millie.

Anonymous said...

The question on whether to make the Property Appraisers position elected was a pproved by 76% of those who voted in that election. that is a pretty strong mandate.

Anonymous said...

If we have to elect someone, let's stick with professional managers. Not career politicians.

Anonymous said...

In late 2011, I discovered that the title to my house had been fraudulently changed. After an email and anxious phone call to the Property Appraiser's office, I was promised quick attention to the issue. Just one week later, I surprisingly got a call at 5:45 pm telling me that the trouble had been identified and the title would be reverted. The fact that this public service person was working past 5 pm surprised and pleased me. Within three weeks, the matter was cleared up. I was thrilled with the attention and service I received from the Property Appraiser's office and plan to vote for Mr. Garcia, who has DECADES of experience in real estate. He's proved to me that the team there now keeps the public's issues at the top of their list.

Anonymous said...

I found this information on the Miami-Dade County about the new technology that Mr. Garcia has been implementing in the office.

I agree with the poster that said it's important to stick with professional managers like Mr. Garcia. For most of us, it's been a hard few years of worrying about our property, mortgages, etc. I like the fact that Mr. Garcia is going after the fraud. Why didn't anyone investigate these phony homestead exemptions before 2009?

Anonymous said...

The website is Adobe Flash which I cannot see on my Ipad. shouldnt somebody have realized that flash is an outdated software for a website before spending whatever millions of dollars on the website? Maybe a younger point of view is better?

John Alex said...

This product differentiation and lack of frequent trading, unlike stocks, means that specialist qualified appraisers are needed to advise on the value of a property. The appraiser usually provides a written report on this value to his or her client. These reports are used as the basis for mortgage loans, for settling estates and divorces, for tax matters, and so on. Sometimes the appraisal report is used by both parties to set the sale price of the property appraised.Home Appraisers