San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Dan Harp is one of two candidates running for the office of Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk. The current Assessor, Dennis Draeger, is retiring from office. He endorsed Harp to replace him.
The Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk is one of only a few positions in county government that must be put to the vote of the electorate. The reason for this is evident in this election.
Actions by a county assessor directly impact the amount of taxpayer money the county’s board of supervisors has to spend. San Bernardino County has been blessed with decades of scandals involving board members using their offices for political gain including bribery and money laundering. And now they are trying to control the Assessor by electing a fellow politician rather than supporting the non-political assistant assessor for the top spot.
In Part Two of this interview, Harp was asked to explain why this should matter to the voters. Here is his response.
Why should this office be important to the voters?
Local government at the county level should be important to all of us who are residents and voters in San Bernardino County because it touches our daily lives. The combined efforts of the Assessor and the Auditor-Controller/ Treasurer-Tax Collector offices ultimately produce tax revenue used to support public services.
The Office of the Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk, being a multi-faceted entity, is a classic example of a government agency that affects all of us to some degree in our daily lives in terms of our financial, business, or personal affairs. Let me recite some Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk statistics from 2013 to illustrate this point:
817,000 taxable parcels
$167.5 billion assessment roll
556,000 documents recorded
81,000 copies of birth, death, and marriage certificates issued
10,300 marriage licenses issued
4,500 civil marriages performed
13,500 fictitious business names issued
If you own real estate in San Bernardino County you pay property taxes which means you will have interaction with the Assessor because your assessed value is a major element of the property tax equation. Property taxes are a main source of revenue for the 24 cities in the county, the County itself, and schools. Forty percent of the property tax dollars goes to support schools, 10 percent to the County, and 20 to 25 percent to the cities.
As property owners many of our real estate-related documents are recorded such as grant deeds, deeds of trusts, reconveyances, etc. In the event one requires a copy of such a document, interaction with the Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk’s will result.
In regards to personal affairs, if one was born, died, or married in San Bernardino County, there will be many instances when copies of these vital records will be required if one is either a San Bernardino resident or former resident. If you are planning to be married you will have to pay a visit to the County Clerk’s office in order to obtain your marriage license and, if you decide you wish to obtain a marriage license and have a civil marriage performed at the Hall of Records, that can be accomplished for a $154 fee.
Lastly, if one is conducting a for-profit business, a fictitious business name statement must be filed with the County Clerk in order to make available to the public the identities of those persons doing business under the fictitious name.