Letter: Robert Ohneiser, Lucketts

Editor: As a candidate for county chairman, I hold myself above the level of just complaining or throwing rocks at the incumbent without showing evidence. As a lawyer for over 31 years that’s just how the job needs to proceed. Below are two sets of examples showing how the current agenda of the Board of Supervisors has missed a major problem and continues to allow an unfair tax collection procedure to burden homeowners.

First, let’s take a look at some small samples of why I want to get the property tax system fixed then I will show you an example that will floor you.

Near the corner of Stumptown Road and Rt. 15 is a two-acre lot that includes a store, gas station and about 19 trailers most of which pay the owner monthly land rent of around $800 to $1,000, although I know of one case being charged $1,600/month just to rent the land and utilities to support their trailer. These are not high-income people so this issue of not charging the right property tax rate can be seen as helping a rich person abuse the poor which should be a big issue for a Democratic chairperson if she was paying attention. This lot including buildings is assessed for $464K, yet it is public info on the same commissioner website that the store itself was purchased in 2014 for $2,750,000. On what financially competent planet could this make sense while most Loudoun homeowners pay tax based on the full market value of their home every year even though it would cost them 6 percent to sell it.

The second example is right down the street where a 14.5-acre site with a motel on it continued to have the same $419K assessment even though a large restaurant with a large parking area and lots of land development work done was added. Didn’t most of our home assessments go up this year even if we didn’t make any improvements or additions?

Now, here is the item that should send every Loudoun resident to the voting booth this coming Nov. 5: Janelia Farm (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) is about a 600-acre parcel with 60 acres developed just to the north side of Rt. 7 by Ashburn Village. HHMI published that the initial buildings were expected to cost $500 million with 147,000 square feet of structural glass under the second largest green roof in the United States. If you haven’t seen this facility look up parcel 056367444001 in the County Assessment Data Base and click on aerial view. It is gorgeous and they even built two large apartment/hotel complexes on the site. Would you be surprised that the assessed “taxable” value according to the county is $38 million and even that is not collected? Yes, the current chair of the Board of Supervisors allowed the continued exemption of property tax from a private organization which currently states having $20.4 billion in net assets. This is at the same time that the support for the Good Shepherd Alliance charity, which supports homeless in Loudoun, received less support than the previous year.

This will get fixed after the next election. I guarantee it.

Robert Ohneiser, Lucketts

10 thoughts on “Letter: Robert Ohneiser, Lucketts

  • 2019-03-07 at 9:58 am

    The only thing “guaranteed” is that Ohneiser is going to go down to a crushing defeat in the fall. He has become a real flake. A hasbeen.

  • 2019-03-07 at 10:00 am

    Errrrrr ok…?

    I think I kinda get your point in that long rant, but I don’t see how your two examples relate to most of us.

    And more importantly, you’re not telling us how you’re planning to address it. Simply stating “This will get fixed after the next election. I guarantee it” is one of the most shallow and worthless campaign promise I’ve ever come across.

    Ok so the assessments are wrong. What’s your suggestion? Align them to the last sale price? Great! Me and a bunch of other people are going to save on property taxes since we purchased our houses forever ago and our assessments keeps creeping up. Oh wait, I bet that overall that would mean less revenue for the county. Are you going to increase the tax rate to compensate? Well that’s going to punish everyone who sold their house recently isn’t it?

    You could suggest re-assessing property values instead. Use taxpayer money to hire a company that goes on everybody’s property to assess their fair market value? The previous board tried that. Guess how We, the People of Loudoun, county appreciated the intrusion and the message we sent the supervisors back then.

    Or maybe it’s something else entirely. Enlighten us please.

    While I (along with plenty of other folks) am not a fan of chair Randall, if you want to get our votes you’re gonna have to do a lot better than that. We’re not idiots. Don’t treat us as such.

  • 2019-03-07 at 12:50 pm

    Now I get it. The platform of Mr. Ohneiser is to raise through the roof assessments in the County, and then lower a little bit the tax rate, and then say that he has somehow cut taxes, when he will actually increase by incredible amounts the taxes that we all pay. Brilliant, if you are someone who does not think. I was not aware that, in order to run as an independent candidate in Virginia, that one of the qualifications is to park your brain outside on the street.

  • 2019-03-07 at 1:24 pm

    The assessment issue is indeed a real issue around the county (some buildings assessed very high, others not at all as Mr. Ohneiser describes), but doesn’t fall under the BOS, in fact, they actually have little to no power in that area. The elected official that oversees assessments is the Commissioner of the Revenue.

  • 2019-03-09 at 2:10 pm

    I thank each contributor who provided constructive input. Yes – this is a commitment to use the agenda of the BOS to revamp the assessment system to make it FAIR. Every decision of the BOS needs to proceed from problem definition to resolution through the prism of efficiency, fairness and community support. I believe every parcel should be viewed based on actual market value (what is it worth if the owner sold it?) which for a business/foundation is the value of the land/facilities plus consideration of the discounted cash flow of the business generated on the parcel. The Greenway would be a good example of a highly impactful business which is under-assessed, small lots in overlay districts are substantially over taxed, most homes are over assessed as the value the owner can receive from a sale needs to include a credit for sales commissions (usually 6%) and business/foundation properties which are not accurately market valued based or totally exempted like HHMI, hospitals etc need to contribute to make the system fair. The chair drives the agenda for the county which I believe needs to focus on the most strategic issues and report to the public how these issues are defined and what the progress is toward a reasoned solution. My point was that we could afford greater support for the working poor and homeless of the County by using more financially justifiable assessment reasoning and by not exempting entities like HHMI.

  • 2019-03-11 at 9:57 am

    Thank you for your answer, however you still are not explaining how you intend to reach your goal.

    You are running as an independent, which means you are going to need to convince a LOT of people to vote for you.

    It’s not just the swing votes from middle of the road folks like me that count. You also need to sway those voters who usually just tick the box next to (D) or (R) without putting much thought into it.

    Your letter and your answer just aren’t enough for this.

    Tell you what, here is my suggestion:
    1/ Explain how the current property assessment system works.
    2/ Provide your analysis as to why it is broken and results in the discrepencies you describe
    3/ Propose realistic ideas on how it can be fixed
    4/ While you’re at it, elaborate on your other claim that you will reduce the tax rate. Seems to me (and others who commented on that article) that your plan is to increase assessment values and decrease tax rate, resulting in no change to the tax $ amount for most, which is what really matters to people.

  • 2019-03-11 at 1:48 pm

    I look forward to Bob’s answer. What I see is Bob wanted to make the assessment rate include non-profits that abuse our property tax system Unlike some Bob is willing to engage in civil discourse. Btw drawing from the same voters in 2015 Ohneiser had over 1000 more votes than Randall.

  • 2019-03-11 at 7:35 pm

    Norges53 – Thank you for acknowledging I received more votes when I ran countywide for Commonwealth Attorney than Ms. Randal received to win Chair. By definition that means I drew votes from both parties as well as independents. I expect that with the $4.4 billion LCPS capital plan and the $370 or so million due to Metro some independents just might make voting this time more of a priority.
    Now for specifics. (do you think Phyllis could even answer your questions as none of this was even raised over the last four years)? Why hasn’t she objected to the under assessment of the GREENWAY?
    Market value is the determinant of assessed value. (What does the county believe you would receive if you sold your property?) The Greenway is said to cost $billions if the state were to buy it yet our current taxable assessment is well below $250 million. Not only is that wrong (leaving money on the tax table) but it is insulting as our Chair of the BOS never even put on the agenda a request to analyze why Loudoun residents don’t get a discount for traveling on the Greenway.
    If you buy 2 acres of land and then put 20 trailers on it that pay you $1000 per month for rent did the land not go up in value? If you sold it would you not receive more than you paid for it? Check out the assessed value of trailer parks in Loudoun and you will find no such analysis. No – I am not looking just to raise property taxes but to make the system FAIR! I like Bob Wertz and would provide him with financially competent resources to fix this problem so homeowners are not stuck with paying the difference. When all the cheaters stop cheating the funding goes up and the rate of taxes can go down.
    Would it go down is the question as there are more board members than the Chair. If we give LCPS efficiency metrics to meet that $1.3 million budget and $4.4Billion capital plan will shrink. Why? I chaired the finance committee for most of my 8 years on the school board and know what they do to avoid scrutiny. Did Phyllis even try to investigate the veracity of the school budget demands before “politically announcing” we should fully fund it? Did she even notice that even after $4.4 billion CIP was presented Evergreen Mills elementary School is overcrowded in two years and the problem isn’t fixed for another 9 years? Do bus utilization levels affect the budget? Do class minimums affect the budget? Does having an I.T. staff in EVERY Department at LCPS affect efficiency? Can librarians who are fully certified teachers (who don’t teach classes now)affect the budget if they taught one class? Does the fact that schools in high student density areas start at the same time affect the ability to have less bus drivers and less $200k buses as more pickups can occur when schools don’t all start simultaneously? Should the Superintendent be forced to commit to “SOME” advertising revenues from advertising revenues at some 80 plus schools?
    Should it be explained to teachers over 65 that they would actually make more income for less hours if they retired and worked part time as the state would pay their pension. I doubt this paper would give me the added space for all the opportunities to improve school quality, improve community support while reducing property taxes closer to the state average of 79 cents but at least I tried to answer you. Try asking John W. or Phyllis the same questions! Bob O__ Esq.

  • 2019-03-12 at 2:50 pm

    600 words later and we are no closer to an answer to the simple “How are you going to address the assessments’ discrepancy?” question.

    Instead you are taking us in 3 completely different directions: metro, the greenway and schools, with a zillion different subtopics to improve efficiency on that last one alone.

    The best part of course is how you explain LCPS is plagued with problems right after you tell us you’ve been on the board for 8 years. So… You did not fix the problems then but it’s all going to get better once you’re chair of the BOS? How does that work?

    This is truly astonishing. I don’t think I could sweep my letter’s original topic under the carpet, proceed to be all over the place, and acknowledge I have a credibility issue in one fell swoop like you did, even if I tried.

  • 2019-03-18 at 6:04 am

    Jeff Mach . Is that your name or are you hiding behind an anonymous post? I doubt anyone who reads these can’t see you are here to bash. On my Facebook Candidate page I listed all the major votes I made while on the school board yet you blame me for not controlling it. Feel free to tera into those votes but it will never be credible to accuse me of not participating at every meeting and standing on principle even with 1 to 8 votes. Yes the Board of Supervisors can do a much better job controlling LCPS spending without negatively impacting quality of education. As Chair of the finance committee for most of my time on the school board I had an inside view of what is done and what is not done to enhance efficiency. Do either of the other candidates you obviously prefer have that experience or even an educational background in finance? Let’s work together to define problems and demonstrate progress toward reasonable solutions not just bash people clearly qualified and willing to help the county.

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