April 30, 2014

EDITORIAL: Dictos has shown integrity, independence as assessor

The Fresno County assessor-recorder's office was troubled in 2010. Audits by state and county agencies exposed numerous problems in the office.

After incumbent Robert Werner chose not to run for a third term, voters turned to Paul Dictos, a certified public accountant, to get operations back on track.

Dictos has performed his duties well while running the office by the belief that properties should be assessed at their value under the law -- neither a penny more nor a penny less.

This might sound like common sense or simply following statute. But accurate, timely assessments of property -- particularly farmland enrolled in the Williamson Act program -- weren't always performed by Dictos' predecessors.

In fact, when Dictos took office, valuations of Williamson Act properties hadn't been updated in more than two decades. As you might imagine, some growers and ranches were angry when they saw hefty increases in their property taxes following the updates.

But the truth is, farmers had received significant and undeserved tax breaks for years because previous assessors had failed to do their duty.

Dictos, a man of high integrity, has capably served the county and its taxpayers the past four years. We recommend him to voters in the primary election that begins Monday with mail balloting and concludes with voting at the polls June 3.

His opponent, Mike Goossen, is a CPA, financial consultant, small business coach and former chief executive officer of the Central California Blood Center. Goossen says that he is better equipped to lead the assessor-recorder's office staff than Dictos is and that he will improve operational efficiency. The office, Goossen says, deserves a full-time assessor.

Dictos, who operates an accounting firm, says that he devotes little time to his business. We've seen no signs that he is less than fully involved in fulfilling his assessor-recorder responsibilities. If re-elected, Dictos says that he will turn over operation of the accounting firm to others.

In the face of strong opposition from farm interests and some members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, Dictos gave the office a much-needed shake-up. He also has educated the public about the homeowners property tax exemption, which reduces the taxable value on an owner-occupied home by $7,000, and he has done outreach to help all eligible homeowners take advantage of it.

The public must have confidence that the assessor will treat people fairly and make accurate valuations of all taxable property in the county. Dictos is the right person for this important job.

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