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Krekorian, Zine call for review of Noguez operation on suspect property devaluations

By Brian Hews

Zine also calls for Noguez to “vacate” office

Two key members of the Los Angeles City Council have called for an independent review of all properties within the County of Los Angeles that received a property reassessment that reduced the value by at least 20% since December 2010.
Councilmen Denis Zine and Paul Krekorian said in a joint statement from LA City Hall on Tuesday that “in light of the ongoing District Attorney’s investigation and serious allegations about favorable treatment given to certain property owners.”
Zine and Krekorian called for a review of all properties that were reassessed from December of 2010, when Noguez took office, that were appraised downwards by 20% or more.
“It has been reported that prosecutors are looking at more than 100 properties to see if their assessed values were improperly reduced since the current Los Angeles County Assessor was elected,” Krekorian said in a statement.
Spokesperson Jeremy Oberstein with Krekorian’s office told Los Cerritos Community Newspaper that the first term city councilman is not calling for Noguez to resign.
“The City of Los Angeles receives $0.30 cents of every $1.00 that is collected from the 1% of assessed value on properties in the City. In the City’s 2011-12 Fiscal Year Budget, 20.9% of the General Fund revenue came from Property Tax, by far the largest single source of general fund revenue for the City,” the joint statement read.
But, Councilman Zine called for Assessor Noguez to temporarily vacate the office pending the outcome of the investigation.
“Honesty, transparency, integrity, and trust need to be restored to the Office of the County Assessor, “said Councilman Dennis P. Zine, Chair of the Audits & Governmental Efficiency Committee. “I have some serious concerns about the potential funds that the City may have been cheated out of if these accusations turn out to be true. These funds could have gone to support critical functions of this City. Our concerns need to be laid to rest by having an independent review of the properties in question.”
“Yesterday, we finished putting together an extraordinarily difficult budget that requires more cutbacks in city services and more hardship for the citizens of Los Angeles and the city workforce that serves them,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Chairman of the Budget & Finance Committee.
“At a time when all local governments are facing challenges to maintain public safety and other core services, we cannot afford to allow even a penny of tax revenues to be improperly uncollected. The pending investigations surrounding the County Assessor’s office raise serious questions about whether the people of Los Angeles have been cheated out of revenues to which they’re entitled. Only a truly independent review can resolve those questions and ensure that taxpayers who play by the rules and comply with the law receive fair and equitable treatment,” the statement concluded.