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Duplicate Real Estate Assessments Sent Due to Error

by Katie Pyzyk — February 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm 1,565 37 Comments

Real estate assessments were mailed out to Arlington residents several weeks ago, but there appears to be a glitch with some of them. A number of home owners reported being confused about why they received more than one assessment.

Assessor Tommy Rice explains that there were errors in some addresses, and unit numbers were erroneously omitted on some envelopes. Although the postal service managed to get some of the mailings to the correct recipients, not all made it to their destinations. Therefore, second notices with complete addresses were sent to all affected property owners. The actual assessments were not altered.

Blame apparently lies with the software used by the county’s print shop. Arlington will be recovering the costs of the duplicate mailings from the software vendor.

  • NorthThomas

    This story has an oddly familiar ring to it.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Maybe they’ll propose or implement another tax increase so next year they can afford testers to test the software before it prints real data and the assessments are mailed to people.

      • NorthThomas
        • South Awwwlington

          +1,000,000. Can’t we just get this crap via email?

          • spammer

            Hello, here is your new assessment. You owe an additional $343.21. Please click on the link below to pay with a credit card or face immediate penalties!

          • drax

            That would require collecting and maintaining a list of thousands of email addresses, which frequently change. The address of the property being assessed never changes.

          • Connie

            Utilities do it. You register your email if you want to go paperless. Not hard, very progressive.

          • Zoning Victim

            With IT, “not hard” doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with “inexpensive to do.” Building a system to allow people to receive their assessment electronically has a lot more moving parts to it than just emailing a document. For starters, I wouldn’t want my personal information sent via email. To do it properly (i.e. securely), the county would need to build a system where we could login to private areas to view our documents securely. That, along with all of the supporting security software could easily cost in the hundreds of thousands dollars. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it, it would be great to be able to handle all county business on the web, but it’s not something they can just start doing on a whim.

          • drax

            Yeah, you could do it. But why?

            I want important financial docs like that on paper, and in my mailbox where I’m sure it won’t get lost.

            There may even be a legal requirement that says the county has to give you something on paper or deliver something to the address assessed.

          • Deez

            Why does the IRS let me file my sensitive tax returns online? Because it is the quicker, cheaper and more efficient way to do business.

            Besides, almost all the data is available to anybody on the county’s own website. I can type in any address and see the assessment, owner information, sales history etc. Stop being so anti-progress.

          • Zoning Victim

            The IRS deals with hundreds of millions of tax returns. What saves money at that scale doesn’t necessarily apply to Arlington’s tax assessments. The interesting part about IT is that it doesn’t cost much more to code an enterprise level system whether or not there are thousands or millions of users. The added expense of scaling up to a lot more users is typically all in infrastructure.

            I’m all for going electronic where it saves money, but one can’t just assume that every project to go electronic will have a positive return.

            Also, drax is right, “§ 58.1-3330. Notice of change in assessment” of the Code of Virginia mandates that the changes in the assessments “shall be sent by postpaid mail.”

          • Suburban Not Urban

            Deez, Except they charge you for the privilege(unless your income is too low). And what about the folks who don’t or can’t get email, now you’ve got to do it 2 ways.

      • drax

        “Arlington will be recovering the costs of the duplicate mailings from the software vendor.”

        • NorthThomas

          They can try. More likely, operator error.

          • drax

            Always assume the government is at fault. Private sector never makes mistakes.

          • Keith

            Not trying to blame “government”, but from experience the error is almost always on data entry side in these types of applications. Everybody makes mistakes. A person in the “government” is no more or less likely to make a mistake than a programmer. The problem is programmers do what they are asked. If someone on the client side does not present the parameters completely and accurately, the client gets a less than fully functional product. That is not the programmers fault.

          • drax

            Okay. Except when you look at it, this doesn’t sound at all like a data entry problem. It was a problem with producing the data for printing.

        • Zoning Victim

          I’d find it hard to believe that a software vendor would pay for something like this. Every EULA I’ve ever read protects the software vendor from having to pay damages for something like this.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            Except when you do business with Gov’t entities – I had a boss that actually got in legal trouble because the contract he proposed and the gov’t signed, they then later audited and decided wasn’t “correct”

  • The Taxed Man

    Translation: Get your wallets out citizens and dig deeper.

  • novasteve

    Fortunately Arlington doesn’t have a tax decal for real property tax, otherwise the county board would be charging you $35 and send you an obama campaign sign you have to put up in your yard.

    • South Awwwlington

      hahah. Much needed laugh. Thanks. Seriously!

  • nunya

    again?!

  • LP

    Definitely got mine twice!

  • http://www.garrettpeck.com VASQ

    I was wondering why I got two…and they were identical, other than the date (a week apart).

  • S Tee

    I love our County officials – never their fault – always someone else. I can’t remember when the County said, gosh, we made an error and apologize.

    • drax

      Can you remember an error they made that required that?

      • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

        You wouldn’t happen to be related to Thes would you ??

      • The Taxed Man

        Oh, No mistakes by the fearless five of the county board?
        Yes. How about that fiasco with their handpicked county manager Brown?? Cost us over 100,000 dollars to get of that mess. Did we get an apology? No. Why? Because the lemmings here will never hold them accountable. They just keep getting returned to office.

      • The Taxed Man

        Drax, You are correct. The county board fearless five never make a mistake for which they should apolgize. The Artisphere was not a mistake of the county board. The mistake was that of the citizens for not filling the Artisphere to capacity for every performance as their adopted business plan projected. Shame on us!

        • drax

          I’m not correct about anything because I didn’t make an assertion, I just asked a question. I meant exactly what I said – does S Tee remember a specific error that required an apology? I wasn’t saying no such errors ever happen. Don’t read anything into my question.

        • drax

          And I wasn’t talking about political decisions by the Board, I was talking about little mistakes by the bureaucracy, like, you know, the subject of this thread.

          • The Taxed Man

            “Little mistake” by county bureacrats? Oh, Well how about the county putting an assessemnt for a extra bathroom on a house for several years when it did not exist or an assessment for an extra bathroom which did not exist?

      • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

        Yes I do…..Artisphere comes to mind.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        Yea – how about when the plow crew got stuck in the intersection next to my house and then they brought a piece of equipment out to pull it out of the snow bank and pulled the plow blade off the truck and trashed the road which sat like that for like 6 months.

  • Arlington Cat

    You wealthy Arlingtonians, just pay both bills.

  • Hmmm

    Aha.. that explains it. I wondered if there was a change somewhere in my paperwork that I wasn’t spotting. Thanks, ARLnow!

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