Peter Clarke Story Shows Need for Reform in Property Appraiser Office, Says Candidate

Orlando, Florida – July 10, 2012 – The recent story regarding Peter Clarke owing $42,000 in back property taxes has brought about questions of public concern regarding how two or more homestead exemption claims for the same household managed to go unnoticed by the Property Appraiser.

Current chief of the Property Appraiser’s Office, Bill Donegan, who has been quoted as stating, “If you’re cheating on your property taxes, you’re basically cheating your neighbor”, tipped off fellow Republican politician, Peter Clarke, of a news reporter investigating Clarke’s homestead indiscretion, which prompted Clarke to pay the $42,000 he owed in taxes and fines. If during routine investigations it was known by the Property Appraiser office of the issue, as Bill Donegan claims, why has it taken six years for the Property Appraiser Office to address an issue they admit to have known about?

While Bill Donegan apparently provides courtesy calls to fellow Republican politicians, his office has reportedly since 2006 used “new technology and a controversial state law passed in 1994 requiring homeowners to provide their Social Security numbers when applying for homestead exemption” to pursue the increase of cases of homestead exemption fraud.

According to Rick Singh, candidate for Orange County Property Appraiser, “It is questionable how accurate this filing process really is for Mr. Clarke to have filed multiple erroneous homestead exemption claims since 2006, and only paying them after being prodded by a local reporter.  As an experienced property appraiser, I believe this situation should have never been allowed to go on for so long.”

Mr. Singh further added, “Having a field appraiser who actually visits the property instead of a ‘drive-by appraisal’ is one way to catch false claims like this before six years have gone by.  It is not enough to be a politician in this political office, the property appraiser needs to be qualified to deal with the appraisal issues of the day.”

This is not the first time Bill Donegan has missed a significantly dodgy taxpayer.  Under Mr. Donegan’s watch, Toby Unwin, a millionaire businessman, also got away with not paying taxes for four years and racked up the country’s biggest lien in recent history.

Rick Singh adds, “There are always protocols that should be in place to avoid these costly oversights.  The Property Appraiser office should have notified the homeowner immediately. Furthermore, there should be a policy for referring extreme cases, where the property owner has clear knowledge and intent to underpay property taxes, to law enforcement”.

Rick Singh is a state certified property appraiser with a combined 17 years of public and private experience, as well as a veteran broker in the real estate industry. Rick Singh is running as a Democrat for Orange County Property Appraiser in the Orange County’s November General Election against Bill Donegan, Republican.  For more information, visit: votericksingh.com.

 Contact:
Rick Singh (Available for comment any time)
press@votericksingh.com
Campaign:  (407)278-1500
PO Box 533936
Orlando, FL 32853
Rick Singh calls for reform in Property Appraisers Office
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