Friday, April 1, 2011

Big Brother's Well Scrubbed Cousin Visits

Big Brother or maybe Big Brother’s younger cousin, visited my block yesterday about noon. That’s what it seemed initially. After some digging, I found that the scrubbed young couple on the block probably worked for the county assessor.
They appeared—he with clipboard, she with long measuring tape—from a white Focus with an unreadable logo on the side and came across the street. I was just leaving my house. I’m always curious about clipboard carriers, so I chatted them up.
They offered neither ID card, nor verbal identification, just a smooth articulate presentation. I went along with the presentation, asking questions, but stupidly overlooked asking for ID.
Their assigned task, they said, was to measure the buildings on the block (exactly which block, I wondered later) and compare the measured building size with their record. Sometimes they did check measured differences against building permits. Sometimes an addition was done with no permit. Sometimes the project out grew the permit specifications.
They hadn’t been on my block in four years, which they said was a long time. Four years seemed a short time to me.
All this didn’t quite make sense, but I continued my errand and the couple went into the back yard of the house at the end of the block.
Post errand, with things still not making sense, I emailed the ever helpful Deborah Nason in the City of Albuquerque department that handles building permits. Nason did some digging, found nothing, and handed me to the office of Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya.
The second assessor staffer I spoke to recognized the male of my visitor couple and explained that this time of year the Assessor sends people into neighborhoods to compare structure size with the Assessor’s record. If the structure has grown, the property tax may well grow.
Straightforward, I guess, though I’m still not comfortable with random folks tromping around my back yard.
But an identification from the couple by name, backed by a badge and a statement that they were working for the Assessor would have saved us a bunch of time.
Transparency, that’s the word.

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