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Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 8-17

Just a Thought: Tax Assessor’s Office
By Steve Walker

While chatting with a friend of mine recently, she told me about her ordeal of attempting to renew her vehicle’s license plate sticker. To most of us, it is very simple routine. For the most part, that had been her experience as well, until this year.
While she inherited her vehicle from her mother, it had never been a problem in the past to obtain the sticker to keep the truck legal for the road. Some years she stood in long lines to get it.

 Other years she mailed the registration papers and the fees and had it sent to her house. She also on occasion ordered it on line. This year, however, someone made the discovery that the title was not in her name, but in her deceased mother’s name. Therein lies the problem.

She had misplaced the title, so she contacted her siblings to see if any of them had a copy of the title by chance. No luck. Her family then went through the process of collecting the paperwork to submit for a new copy of the title.

This entailed much paperwork, notary publics, finding the will and more paperwork.

When my friend visited the Office of the Tax Assessor for the first time, she discovered she was lacking proof of a lien that had been paid off. She went and followed the instructions that she was given, and returned to the same office. Unfortunately, another clerk waited on her, and told her the paperwork she provided was not what was needed.

The clerk informed her other evidence to prove ownership was needed and she would need additional paperwork.

This was not pleasing to my friend, and she was hard pressed to continue. She did need a vehicle to get around, so she tried again. She gathered all the items that she had been told to bring, and once again went to the Tax Office.

Once again, another clerk and a supervisor would not accept what she brought in.  She was totally frustrated!! That is when she called me to help her figure it out.

I recall my own trips to register my cars, and did not look forward to standing in a long line and waiting with her to try help figure out how to get the vehicle back on the road. Before we went, I called Mr. Uresti’s office to ask him to help explain to her what the problems might be and the solution.

To my surprise when we went to the downtown office, the process had changed for the better. Since her vehicle had been parked for well over a month awaiting a solution, we discovered we found it

Modernization to the twenty-first century had arrived to the office.  Now one could register after the screening, and be assigned a number to put you at the clerk’s window who would then assist you through the process.
No more standing in long lines!! You are seated in comfortable chairs in a nicely air conditioned space until your name and number is called over a public address system within a reasonable time.
My friend commented that the upgrades apparently happened since her last visit. The previous times she visited there were long waiting periods in line. Also, Mr. Uresti came down from his office to assist my friend understand the process.

With his assistants and aid at his side, she was able to sail through process in 15 minutes. To everyone’s satisfaction, all was filed and explained. She walked out singing the praise of Mr. Uresti, a true public servant, and the new system he implemented all over town.

I would say if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the Tax Assessor’s office to pay your property taxes, or register your vehicle, then you are in for a pleasant surprise.
The office is now user friendly, fast, and efficient. Hopefully you will get your business done in one visit. But if you need extra help, there will be someone able to walk you through, even at the top, if it is necessary! Hats off to Albert Uresti and his competent staff and the best changes we have seen in a long time.

As always, I write “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace.

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