So Moorlach, why wasn’t this action by you and your colleagues not unconstitutional?
Folded into the Orange County Budget Resolution for 2008 was the following as item #5: Authorize Auditor-Controller to pay 2003 through 2006 Possessory Interest Tax for Dana Point Harbor boat slip licensees of approximately $850,000 from Fund 108.Ã‚Â This item is related to a matter that was coveredÃ‚Â in the Los Angeles Times on April 28, 2007 by Christian BerthelsenÃ‚Â regarding the County AssessorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s discovery that Dana Point Boat Slip owners had not been billed for their tax liabilities for their boat slips. Berthelsen reports that Webster Guillory, the county assessor, said the slip assessments just fell through the cracks. When the county took over the leases, the new contracts stated that boaters would now be responsible for paying their own possessory interest taxes. But county officials in charge of the marina neglected to mention that to the assessor’s office until two years later. During that time, he didn’t even know he was supposed to be assessing the slips, he said, and that he undertook the work as soon as he was made aware of it in November.
“In this case, I did not get timely information, so now that I have it I’m just responding to it,” Guillory said. He added there was no way the county treasurer’s office could have known the taxes were going unpaid in previous years, because he hadn’t issued the assessments for them.
Among those people receiving the late notification of taxes due was Supervisor Pat Bates, who indicated at the time the budget was approved that she had paid her slip fees.Ã‚Â But as always, nothing is ever that simple.Ã‚Â In reviewing the Board actions on this matter I found the followingÃ‚Â in the Board Member Comments from the May 1st meeting.
Supervisor Bates – Oral Re:Ã‚Â Recent notice of assessments to boat owners in Dana Point.Ã‚Â (1) Direct staff to identify the systems and/or communications failed and allowed 4 years of taxes to go unpaid when harbor operations changed from leasehold to operating agreements (2) Direct Staff to identify the legal basis of authority for retroactive assessments (3) Directed staff to identify the remedies available to boaters who received notices.Ã‚Â A funny thing happened when I went to review the video from that meeting.Ã‚Â Supervisor Bates did not make ANY comments at that time of the meeting on this or any other subject.
Then I found this in Supervisor BatesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ District Newsletter:
At our May 1st Board of Supervisors meeting, I requested the CEO investigate the Dana Point Harbor possessory interest tax issues and report back on a number of questions.
Boaters with an interest in the use of a boat slip and/or dry storage at Dana Point Harbor had been assessed a property tax known as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Possessory Interest.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â The County Assessor is required to assess private interests in the use of public property such as the boat slips and dry storage at Dana Point Harbor.Ã‚Â In the transition away from master lessors operating the Harbor, it was not recognized that the boat slips and dry storage would be subject to possessory interest assessments, and they subsequently escaped assessment.Ã‚Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Escape assessmentsÃ¢â‚¬Â were levied earlier this year by the County Assessor for possessory interests in the boat slips and/or dry storage for 2003 through 2007 (actually 2006) tax years.Ã‚Â Because licensees at Dana Point Harbor were not notified of the possessory interest assessments during those tax years, my Board colleagues and I directed the County to pay the taxes that resulted from the four escape assessment years.Ã‚Â Thus, boaters will not be required to make payment for escape assessments on possessory interests for the 2003 through 2007 (actually 2006) tax years.
I have been unable to find any discussion by the Board of Supervisors at either of the Budget Hearing meetings held on June 12th and 13th.Ã‚Â During the June 26th meeting none of the Board Members other than Bates addressed the matter.Ã‚Â Supervisor Bates commented that she had paid the taxes that she had been billed for and that she opposed the process of separately billing boat owners for the taxes in the future.
The taxes we are talking about range from $70 to $250 a year for each of the four years that had not been billed.Ã‚Â These taxes were billed for within the statutory time required by law and the boat owners were notified in their agreements that they would be separately billed for the taxes. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right; the maximum amount these owners of luxury yachts owed was $1,000 in back taxes. Apparently, that is just too much of a burden for some of them.
So here comes Moorlach, Norby, and the rest of the Board of Supervisors to the rescue, slipping an obscure payment of taxes into the budget approval motion, with no open discussion of what was being done by anyone on the Board.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m glad that Pat Bates paid her taxes, but I have to wonder how many campaign donors to the Supervisors got their taxes paid by the Orange County taxpayersÃ¢â‚¬Å“gift of public funds?Ã¢â‚¬Â
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kind of funny that this happened so recently.Ã‚Â I seem to recall SupervisorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Moorlach and Norby talking about the unconstitutionality of such Ã¢â‚¬Å“giftsÃ¢â‚¬Â just last week when he talked about his request for the Board to repeal the retroactive portion of Deputy Sheriff’s pension increase from 2001.Ã‚Â
What isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t funny though is the fact that Moorlach has no problem giving a gift of public funds to rich people with boats in Dana Point Harbor. You’ve got to question Supervisor Moorlach’s “principles” in light of his hypocrisy regarding this gift of public funds to pay taxes that rich people knew they were liable for, and can well afford .
I guess we can call this another exciting episode of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lifestyles of the Rich and Connected in Orange County.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Hey Moorlach, got ethics?
I doubt it!
Well, the Board caved and begins today to pursue Mooralch’s Folly. What a waste of money. Someone please stop the insanity. At least the Board will get to revisit this on September 18th.