Inter-Departmental Correspondence

County Manager’s Office



June 17, 2010


July 13, 2010







Honorable Board of Supervisors


David S. Boesch, County Manager


Approval of Increase to Assessment Appeals Board Fees for Written Findings of Fact



Adopt a resolution to increase the fee for written findings of fact in Assessment Appeals Board hearings.



Following assessment appeals hearings, the Assessment Appeals Board (the “AAB”) sends each applicant a Notice of Decision. In those instances where applicants desire to appeal an adverse AAB decision to Superior Court, such applicants must have first requested “written findings of fact” from the AAB at the time of hearing. Written findings of fact, which set forth the AAB’s findings on all material points raised in the application and at hearing, are not otherwise required to be prepared by the AAB. The preparation of written findings of fact requires significant Board member and attorney time, resulting in increased costs to the County.


California Revenue & Taxation Code section 1611.5 authorizes counties to impose reasonable fees “to cover the expense of preparing the findings.” In June 2004, this Board approved an increase to the AAB’s fees for written findings from a flat amount of $75 to a variable amount based on hearing length. Specifically, the AAB’s written findings fees were set at $250 for the first hour of hearing (or portion thereof) and $175 for each hour of hearing thereafter (or portion thereof). Prior to 2004, such fees had not been updated in over 10 years.


Based on current preparation costs, the AAB is requesting an increase in the amount of fees charged for the preparation of written findings to $500 per hour of hearing or any portion thereof. The AAB recommends an increase in such fees in order to cover the expense of preparing such written findings and conclusions.



The Revenue & Taxation Code authorizes counties to impose reasonable fees to cover the expense of preparing Written Findings. Notwithstanding the 2004 revision to the County’s fee schedule, the current fees do not cover such expenses. For example, the Written Findings for a simple residential appeal taking less than 1 hour of hearing time will require 3-4 hours to prepare plus the time for attendance at the hearing. In such cases, however, the $250 in fees collected will not cover the preparation expenses of $720 (i.e., $180/hour x 4 hours). During the 2008-09 Tax Year, the AAB prepared 6 Written Findings of Fact which required approximately 50 hours of preparation time. For the 2009-10 Tax Year, the AAB prepared 16 Written Findings of Fact which required approximately 180 hours of preparation time. As a result, the County Counsel’s office is estimated to have absorbed over $30,000 in unreimbursed preparation costs.


As noted above, Written Findings of Fact are necessary only if an applicant intends to appeal an adverse AAB decision to Superior Court. Accordingly, such findings are requested primarily by owners of commercial or high-value residential properties. For this reason, the AAB believes that an increase in fees will not significantly impact the majority of residential property owners.


The Written Findings fee has been increased only once since 1994. Currently, Santa Clara County imposes a fee of $400.00 (covering the first two hours for hearing and preparation of the findings) plus $200.00 for each additional hour thereafter. The City and County of San Francisco utilizes a sliding schedule ranging from $100.00 to $1,000.00 for written findings fees and $50.00 to $1,200.00 for “hearing fees” based on the assessed value of the subject property. Following San Mateo County’s update to its fees in 2004, Santa Clara County and other counties contacted the County as they considered, and adopted, similar fee increases.


Based on the foregoing, we recommend that the Board approve resolutions to increase the fee for written findings of fact to $500 for the each hour of hearing or portion thereof in order to recover a greater portion of the costs in preparing said findings.


Approval of this resolution contributes to the Shared Vision 2025 of a Collaborative Community by providing that government decisions be based on careful consideration of future impact, rather than temporary relief or immediate gain.


County Counsel has reviewed and approved the Resolution as to form.


Performance Measure(s):


FY 2009-10


FY 2010-11


Amount of Preparation Costs Recovered





Using the new rates, we estimate a positive net fiscal impact of approximately $7,000.