Norfolk Commissioner’s and Treasurer’s offices

Guest post by Douglas E. Knack

Beat up on the Commissioner of the Revenue’s and the Treasurer’s offices in Norfolk season must have begun again. A recent newspaper had fraternal twin stories about them.

What I took away from these stories is threefold.

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First, both offices are dysfunctional. Why is it that the offices in our neighboring cities are able to do things that the offices in Norfolk are just getting around to? Both stories have statements from the comparable offices stating similar actions are the norm.

Second, where is the truth? McDonald said that accessing the businesses on the base was never simple. There is now an “unprecedented agreement.” I believe the Commissioner should learn the meaning of words used before she uses them. Based on the comments of other Commissioners, the only thing unprecedented is our Commissioner’s 14 year wait to tap this potential source of revenue. Beth Baker said that the hard negotiated document is not new information, just a document that drafts the existing protocols. In the article about the business tax avoiders, the Pilot was given names of the contractors, apparently. In the article about the employee tax shirkers, those names were not given, because the Treasurer says, “state law says that I can’t.” It seems odd to me that people who receive bills, and don’t pay, are given preferential treatment over people who are not billed. Did these 59 contractors really pay, on average, almost $34,000, as the story alluded? That means each contractor had gross revenues of just under $10,000,000 for the three years she collected back taxes.

The third take away: maybe the offices of the Commissioner of the Revenue and the Treasurer have outlived their usefulness. There may have been a time when they were valuable. Has that time passed?

Doug Knack was a candidate for Commissioner of the Revenue in 2009. A version of this article was printed as a Letter to the Editor in The Virginian-Pilot today.

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2 thoughts on “Norfolk Commissioner’s and Treasurer’s offices

  1. I always am against calls for abolishing any constitutional office. The voters at least have a chance to correct the problem in the next election. Several events in Norfolk Government this year resulted in no direct remedy to the problems of financial irresponsibliity. Some one has to perform the duties of the 5 constitutional offices. I trust the voters more then any City of Norfolk officials.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts, Charles. You are true Virginia Gentleman. If it was good in 1215, it has to be good now.

    I am not opposed to all Constitutional Offices, or even these two, necessarily. I said “maybe”. It should be looked at and decided by the city, approved by the General Assembly, and voted on by the people, I believe. We should do this study of all Constitutional offices, every now and then.

    There was a time when these offices were useful as balances for one another. That time has changed, in my opinion. It is particularly notable with the two current offices.

    You say you trust the voters more than the city of Norfolk officials. That seems incongruous. Who put the officials whom you don’t trust in office?

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