house 1Recently I received a question about Glendale Councilmember Alvarez’ home. It came from a person surfing the Internet who, out of curiosity, looked up various Councilmembers’ home valuations. I was asked whether I knew that Councilmember Alvarez’ home is listed by the Maricopa County Assessor as being one story in height. Like anyone else, the few times I have visited the Assessor’s site it has been to check the valuation of my property. Who would know an answer to a question like that? Not I. I was intrigued by the question and decided to do some follow up via the trusty Internet.

house 2In the past I have been to Alvarez’ home and it is most definitely a two story home. The County Assessor has it valued as a one story. It could be a very simple clerical error by the Assessor’s office and someone simply overlooked or forgot to check a box indicating the home as two stories. In bureaucracy that happens all the time.

building permitHowever, the situation does raise some questions. The home was originally built in 1972 as one story with the Alvarezes as the original and only owners. The second story was added sometime in the past 40 years. Were Glendale building permits requested and issued? Were inspections were made and passed by the City of Glendale? There should be Glendale records that show that permits were issued and major inspections for electrical and plumbing were passed.

approveIn calling the Assessor’s Office I learned that when permits are pulled at the city level for a home improvement such as adding a second story the city passes that information to the County Assessor’s office. If this occurred, those improvements would show up on the Assessor’s rolls the following year causing an increase in valuation. Yet apparently this did not happen. Why? As a long-term former city employee and now as a Councilmember I am sure Councilmember Alvarez would have followed city requirements for a major project to the letter.

internetI decided to do some more surfing of my own with some help from my grandchildren. (Grandchildren are far more inventive and skillful in the use of the Internet than I could ever hope to be.) Every home in Alvarez’ subdivision is listed as a one story home. We found a two story home within .08 mile of Alvarez with exactly the same square footage (the difference in SF between the two properties is 1 SF). It is valued at $10,000 more than the Alvarez property. There could be other variables that caused the higher valuation of the neighboring two story property but the fact that it has two stories creating additional living space and added value would a major factor.

The fact is the County Assessor has the Alvarez property listed as a one story home. The fact is that the only other two story home in the area has a higher valuation.  Is the valuation of the Alvarez’ property correct? Are the property taxes that have been paid and are currently being paid too low?

This all could be nothing but at the very least, don’t you think Councilmember Alvarez should be notifying the County Assessor that the information listed is incorrect and her home is two stories, not one?