Democrat Rick Singh is challenging Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan at the polls on Nov. 6 and says a recent high-profile homestead violation case shows “cronyism” and lax fraud oversight by the incumbent.
Donegan dismissed the complaints as election-year politics, and said he has a strong record of going after homestead fraud.
Donegan’s office recently received a $42,000 payment for back taxes and penalties from District 3 Orange County Commission candidate Pete Clarke to resolve a pair of homestead exemptions he had claimed. Florida law only allows one of those property tax breaks to be claimed for a main residence.
But Singh said Donegan showed preferential treatment to Clarke by phoning the fellow Republican to notify him that a violation was discovered and would soon be mailed out. Singh also argued it should not have taken media inquiries to discover Clarke’s six-year old violation. Singh, an appraiser, said he would more aggressively pursue such violations.
“He needs to be pro-active,” Singh said. When asked how that could be done, Singh said he would better train field staff to do more in-depth appraisals. Click here for the full Orlando Sentinel article.