Simple questions made complicated

  • January 24, 2013

Based upon my experience, the Observer-Reporter must be confronted with major obstacles when requesting information from county employees under the Freedom of Information Act.

For my estate planning – I will not live forever – I requested a copy of the Pennsylvania estate law. The county employee’s response was, “Who died and who is the attorney?” I replied that I could not answer the question. The employee stated that the information must be provided. After some additional unnecessary discussions, a copy of the law was provided to me.

The real estate tax bill presents a “valuation.” I phoned and requested the factor to be used to determine actual market value for residential property. The question in response was, “What is your parcel ID and lot numbers?” My response was, “Is the factor not uniform for all residential properties throughout the county?” I did not provide any personal data, and finally the factor of four was provided.

At all times the discussions were courteous, but the inability to promptly respond to simple questions baffles me.

Clarence M. Spicer



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