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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Assessor Will Trim at Least 22 From Santa Clarita Staff

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The local county assessor’s office, which now has about 25 employees, will be closed and moved to a new location that will be staffed by three or fewer employees, officials said Tuesday.

The closure of the office, which opened five years ago, is necessitated by county budget cuts, said Gary Townsend, chief deputy for the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor, who also said that some of the county’s 11 other offices are also likely to be closed.

Santa Clarita’s office will be the first to close, Townsend said, because its lease expires first, in April, 1995. Employees no longer needed at the downsized office will be sent to other regional offices, he said.

The office, in a real estate plaza on The Old Road, is scheduled to close early next year, Townsend said. A new location has not been determined.

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“We will not close the existing office without opening another one,” he said.

Townsend said he believes the smaller, replacement office will be able to handle at least 90% of the more than 100 calls and visits received daily. He predicted most homeowners won’t notice the difference, because 90% of reassessment applications are processed by mail. He admitted the processing of some items will be slower.

Some who deal with the Santa Clarita office on a regular basis said they doubt the smaller office will be able to keep up with ordinary traffic, especially because the lingering recession and Northridge earthquake have sent real estate prices into disarray.

“We expect that there will be an increase in real estate activity in the valley, and we have a concern that as building picks up, the reduced staff may not be able to keep up with the service level they have now,” said Carol Maglione, a spokeswoman for The Newhall Land & Farming Co., a major developer in the Santa Clarita Valley.

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Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy said the new office will cause headaches for large projects that require official, detailed maps of an area and property ownership lists.

Darcy, who is also a field deputy to county Supervisor Michael Antonovich, said the cuts were not itemized in the budget approved by the supervisors, so she and other local officials didn’t learn of the plan to downsize the office until late last week.

“I guess we all have to take the budget crunch and squeeze, but I didn’t know it included this,” she said.


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