The County of Santa Clara
California

Resolution
BOS-2019-108

Adopt Resolution authorizing the County Assessor, or his designee, to submit an application, in the form and manner specified by the California Department of Finance, for participation in the State Supplementation for County Assessors Program for up to a two-year period. (Roll Call Vote)

Information

Department:Office of the AssessorSponsors:
Category:Resolution

Body

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS

The Santa Clara County Assessor is requesting approval to participate in the SSCAP.  If the Assessor’s grant application is approved, Santa Clara County will be required to provide matching funds, at the rate of $1 for every $2 of State grant funding. 

 

It is estimated that the total program cost will not exceed $900,000 each year, for a two-year period, beginning in FY 2019-20.  The State SSCAP grant will provide $600,000 for each year of the two-year program and matching funds of $300,000 a year will be required from the County.  If the application is approved, the Assessor’s Office will return to the Board with a budget modification request to recognize the grant revenue and allocate the matching funds by FY 2019-20 mid-year.


CONTRACT HISTORY

The County entered into similar annual agreements in different iterations of this program, beginning with the State through the Property Tax Administration (Loan) Program (PTAP) dating back to 1995.

 

The Assessor successfully participated in this program again in 2014, receiving $2.35 million in State funding over a three-year period for assessment backlog reductions and new discovery programs.  The Assessor has met or exceeded the detailed performance requirements in every year of participation in the PTAP program.

 

REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION

The 2018 California Budget Act appropriated $5 million to create the SSCAP.  This three-year pilot program will provide funding for county assessors to hire new assessment staff and improve IT systems.  The program was created as state and local governments benefit when county assessors can fairly, accurately, and expeditiously assess property for property tax purposes.

 

The Program provides grants of up to $750,000 a year and requires a county match of $1 for each $2 in grant funds the county receives.  Program funds must supplement and not supplant current funding.

 

The 2019 Budget Act re-appropriated, for use in FY20 and FY 21, a total of $3.1 million in unclaimed SSCAP funding that is available for new applicants.  The Assessor’s Office has pressing IS development projects that it lacks the internal resources to build.  If our application is accepted, this grant will enable us to reduce the backlog of operational technological improvement projects that are necessary to improve efficiency, reduce risk of errors resulting from manual processes, and decrease time to complete assessments. 

It is anticipated that participation in this program will provide enhanced customer service, as well as more timely and accurate assessments, while generating revenue to the County general fund, schools and local government in excess of the amount contributed by the County and the State.

 

BACKGROUND

The Assessor’s Office is requesting $900,000, each year, in short-term (contract) full-stack IT development staffing, over a two-year period, to meet immediate needs.  This funding will provide 7,500 IT development hours necessary to complete our outstanding projects.

 

SSCAP funds, combined with County matched funds, will enable the Assessor’s Office to immediately begin three pilot programs in FY 2020 as follows:

 

§        Program 1: Customize and Integrate Tyler AES Residential Software

The Assessor’s Office is in the final stages of completing an addendum of the Tyler AES Residential Valuation Tool agreement, to modernize our residential direct entry assessment system.  However, this tool requires significant development hours to customize and integrate into the existing Assessor’s Office system and workflows.  Currently, assessments of all of the County’s residential transfers undergo manual appraisal and assessment.  This involves multiple professional and support staff’s time.  This function can and should be modernized and automated as much as possible.  Given the enormous volume of residential change of ownerships in this County, this software implementation will have a significant impact on our productivity and accuracy.   However, due to our Cobol-based legacy system its attendant manual processes, implementation requires significant customization and development.

 

§        Program 2: E-File and Paper Filing Enhancements

Currently, approximately 30,000 business property statements are filed electronically through our E-file system.  When taxpayers E-file, their business property is enrolled in our AIMS system, which generates the majority of the unsecured roll.  The system lacks any workflow management or flagging for review.  Consequently, approximately 10,000 E-file accounts are manually reviewed some of which require correction.  Additionally, approximately 8,000 business property statements are filed using paper forms which must be processed manually.

 

Manually processing, tracking and correcting business property statements is an exhaustive process involving review of account information, manual calculations, re-imaging and data entry.  The process involves numerous professional and clerical staff and is unnecessarily time consuming and with a high potential for error.  E-file enhancements will include workflow tracking, assessment anomaly flagging, selective assessment review and correction, and AIMS integration, greatly improving accuracy and efficiency.  In addition, improving the existing paper filings process to an imaged workflow would improve efficiency and accuracy.

Automating these processes would enable us to reallocate staff time to increasing audit compliance, assessment appeal resolution, and discovery production.

 

§        Program 3: Business Data Discovery

Some businesses are unaware of their responsibility to annually report the value of their business personal property (e.g., machinery and equipment, computers and fixtures).  Moreover, the State Board of Equalization recommended in 2014 that the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office increase the discovery of businesses who fail to file business property statements (571-L).  In response, we have implemented a discovery program through the development of a data-matching tool for business tax license filings in local cities.

 

Discovery methods include utilizing California State Board of Equalization sales tax databases (SBEST) and business license databases from cities within Santa Clara County, in addition to developing automatic integration methods with our existing databases.  This will allow the department’s Business Division to discover new businesses and update our existing database by removing redundancies and adding new data to improve the accuracy of our assessment roll.

 

§        Program 4: Automating Supplemental Corrections

Supplemental Assessments are a critical and immediate form of revenue for the County.  After a transfer of ownership, or new construction assessment, our AIMS system generates a supplemental assessment and transmits it to the Tax Collector.

 

The Tax Collector then sends the Assessor a Supplemental Error List that must be manually worked and corrected by assessment staff.  This delays enrollment of supplemental values and creates potential manual calculation and other errors.  By improving the automation of this process, calculation and other errors could be reduced, minimizing manual review, thus reducing processing time and realizing property tax revenues sooner.

 

The Assessor’s Office also has additional, minor development projects that have been backlogged due to lack of qualified resources.  The department will work with TSS to hire qualified temporary contractors, in compliance with existing County regulations.


CHILD IMPACT

Approval of this action, and selection by the California State Department of Finance for this grant, will increase accuracy and timeliness of producing the assessment roll, which generates funding for K-14 public schools and the County Office of Education.


SENIOR IMPACT

The recommended action will have no/neutral impact on seniors.

 

SUSTAINABILITY IMPLICATIONS

The recommended action will have no/neutral sustainability implications.

 

CONSEQUENCES OF NEGATIVE ACTION

The Assessor and County will not have the benefit of additional resources from the State that would have facilitated the timely and efficient administration of property assessments.


STEPS FOLLOWING APPROVAL

Upon Board approval, the Clerk of the Board shall notify Diane Zertuche (408) 299−5577) when two (2) executed copies of the transmittal and two (2) original copies of the Agreement are complete.

 

The Office of the Assessor shall forward the Agreement, along with the resolution, to the State Department of Finance for signature. When one signed original is returned to the Assessor, it will be transmitted to the Clerk of the Board.

 

The Clerk of the Board shall then provide fully executed copies of the Agreement to the

Office of the Assessor, the County Executive, and County Counsel.

 

Meeting History

Aug 13, 2019 9:30 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting
RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Cindy Chavez, Vice President
SECONDER:Susan Ellenberg, Supervisor
AYES:Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Susan Ellenberg, S. Joseph Simitian