When the housing market went on the decline and home values began to plummet, I made the bold decision: I re-evaluated residential property values and lowered taxes for nearly 190,000 homeowners in Contra Costa. Citizens loved that I had taken their side; the politicians and bureaucrats continue to criticize me for taking money away from government coffers. As your County Assessor, please know that I will always take the side of our citizens – and I will never give in to political pressure to do otherwise.
The only law protecting California seniors and other property owner dollars against inflation and rising real estate prices is Proposition 13.
I work hard to fairly assess property taxes in Contra Costa County. You should not pay more than your house is worth, and the County should not demand more than the law permits. Some politicians hate me because I fight for what is right by you. To that end, I have been collaborating for several years to have the State of California increase the homeowner’s exemption from $7,000 a year to $100,000 a year minimum. This would give every homeowner almost a $1,000 a year reduction in their property taxes.
Here is why I believe that money belongs to you, and not the State. Prior to Prop 13 passing in 1978 the homeowner’s exemption was 25% of the assessed value. That also is an alternative to the $100,000 homeowner’s exemption being proposed.
The state should have indexed the exemption in 1978 but they were greedy and did not.
I, and other assessors from around California, are working together to pass this exemption. If there was ever a time to help homeowners, this is the time. With inflation, increased values, and increases in interest rates, we all need to work together to make this happen.
There are two ways we can get the exemption increased. One way is to get a proposition on the ballot, as happened in 1978’s “Tax Revolt” that passed Prop 13. The other way is to have the State legislature vote and pass it.
This is where we all need to work together. If enough Californian’s write their representatives in Sacramento and urge them to pass a law indexing the exemption, it could pass as a law.
Below I have written a draft of text you can share with your State reps. Feel free to change it up and use your own words. The most effective way to reach them, and really reach them, is to mail a letter.
Let’s all let them know that fair is fair, and homeowners deserve this property tax break.
<Your Full Name – Full Address – Phone Number/E-mail (optional)>
Date 1, 2022
Honorable <insert name here>
123 Address Street
City Name, CA, ZIPCODE
Dear Senator/Assembly Member <insert name here>
I am writing to tell you about an important issue affecting homeowners in California, and urge you to take action and support it in Sacramento. The Homeowner’s Exemption was locked at $7,000 in 1978 and has not changed with the times. It is time to correct this.
Prior to Proposition 13 passing in 1978, the homeowner’s exemption was 25% of the assessed value. That also is an alternative to the $100,000 homeowner’s exemption being proposed.
When they implemented the law, the state should have indexed the exemption in 1978 but they did not.
I am hopeful that you will work with your other legislators to put this issue to a vote, and to correct the error of 1978 and restore the homeowner’s exemption to its original equity.
In this time of inflation, increased home values, and increases in interest rates, we all need to work together to finally properly adjust the homeowner’s exemption.
I am grateful for the unanimous endorsement by the County’s fiscal department heads. They appreciate that the role of County Assessor is demanding, and requires deep understanding of our County.
Endorsed by All Three Contra Costa County Fiscal Executives:
Robert Campbell – Auditor-Controller
Lisa Driscoll – Chief Fiscal Officer
Rusty Watts – Treasurer-Tax Collector
They have seen first had my hard work and successful track record of mentoring and managing the staff of 150, and efficiently and fairly performing over $250 billion in appraisals every year.
In fact, the stellar work of the people I lead in the department has been recognized by the State Board of Equalization as A1 rated. One of the highest ratings ever given to the assessors office in the last 20 years.
It is hard working people like Lisa, Robert, and Rusty and their teams that keep the County running. Politicians make speeches and pass resolutions, but the people in the County’s many departments do all the work. I appreciate them.
I am thankful for their recognition and endorsement.
I have received a few messages asking how I, as the County Assessor, can take responsibility for lower taxes. Most politicians want MORE of your hard earned money. The county supervisors can raise your fees for services and then vote themselves a raise. My job is different.
My job is to fairly assess property values. I have fiscal responsibility and professional obligations to be fair. If you think your house is overvalued and property tax too high, the Assessor office will review it.
Over 34,598 houses qualified for a decline in assessed value and lower property tax bills in 2018 alone.
Tough economic times requires everyone to work harder, and smarter, including your local government. It is the job of the Assessor to keep the local politicians from over-reaching into your wallet.
If you have any questions for me, send me an email guskramerassessor@gmail. com or give me a call 925-372-6136
Assessor Gus Kramer shares an important message for tax payers.
The PDF of the letter is attached below. As always, If you have any questions about the taxable value of your home, please take the opportunity to call us at the County Assessor’s office at 925–313-7400. We are here to help you with your property tax questions.
Public Service Announcement Regarding Your Property Taxes • Help us provide you with the best service possible and help you avoid interest and penalties, please remember to pay your first installment of your property taxes on or before Monday, April 11, 2022. • If you have questions about how to pay your property taxes, visit the Contra Costa County Tax Collector’s website at www.cctax.us or call their office at (925) 608-9500. (Corrected w/new phone number). The Tax Collector’s Office is located at 625 Court Street, Ste. 100, Martinez. • If you have any questions about the taxable value of your home, please take the opportunity to call us at the Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office at (925) 313-7400. You are also welcomed to visit our website at www.contracosta.ca.gov/assessor or visit us in person at 2530 Arnold Dr., Ste. 100, Martinez. We are open to the public between 9AM to 4PM Monday through Friday and we look forward to helping you with your property value questions.
“Separate findings by a civil grand jury and a county-hired independent investigator that he had indeed harassed his employees led to a civil trial last year that would have seen Kramer removed from office.”
The Grand Jury did not make findings. It made allegations, which are different from findings in that findings are substantiated, allegations are not.
The county-hired independent investigator did not find that Gus Kramer had harassed employees. In fact, the Bay Area news group retracted a similar statement in October 2018 because this is simply not true. Reprinting this false statement with actual knowledge that it is false is malicious.
“Contra Costa County paid a $1 million settlement in 2009 to a former employee who alleged similar inappropriate behavior by Kramer.”
There was no $1 million settlement by the county with a former employee in 2009. The employee in fact received $275,000 settlement for which the County was responsible because of its personnel policies and $595,000 for attorney’s fees for which the County was also responsible. There was an additional $10,000 charge against Mr. Kramer, which the County paid for him.
As your County Assessor, I have taken on big corporations to fight for equitable tax burden for all. The big corporations find it cheaper to win the support of Supervisors to dodge their tax responsibilities, rather than pay what they legally owe. Private homeowners should not bear the tax burden of mega-corporations like Chevron and vulture hedge funds. Dirty money influences our County politics and your tax bill.
Baseless attacks in the press and from the dias against my work, my department, and my reputation are meant to silence me and stifle my work as Assessor. I persist and continue to fight for the People of Contra Costa despite the personal toll.
Gus Kramer has been exonerated, and newspapers have printed retractions, for the false charges against him
Though I successfully defended the County’s interests, the hedge-fund owned local newspaper’s $60-million property tax appeal has not been settled. And as a result, to this day they continue to print misleading articles about me.
As the executive managing my office at the County Assessor, I have supported equal opportunity for all the staff, and have improved the work environment and efficiency above and beyond the expectations of County departments. Despite this, political attacks from sitting Board members have dragged my name and my department through the mud.
I welcome the opportunity to confront my accusers with the facts discovered by not one, not two, but THREE separate independent investigations that Exonerate me of sexual harassment or hostile work place or retaliation by professionals hired by the county. When the facts are made public, the East Bay Times , the County Board of Supervisors, and their appointees on the county grand jury will be dutifully ashamed of themselves and their unwarranted and political persecution of the county assessor.
My goal is to keep the dirty money from raising your taxes and corrupting our democratic process.