Did County Auditor Marcia Hall Tell The Truth at Madera Chamber Forum? Print
News - Opinion
Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Saturday, 05 April 2014 08:35

MADERA - Last Monday at the Madera Chamber of Commerce Candidate's Forum appointed Madera County Auditor Marcia Hall was asked two questions regarding her private practice CPA firm and her primary residence. On both questions Mrs. Hall avoided the word MERCED. Her answers can most accurately be described as evasive and/or defensive. On the answers for both questions Big Valley News had to ask for clarification, speaking from the audience.

Madera Tribune publisher Chuck Doud asked both county auditor candidates where their private practice CPA firms were located. Oakhurst CPA Todd Miller clearly answered that his firm was located in Oakhurst and offered information about the size of his firm and the kind of work his firm does for his clients.

On the other hand, Marcia Hall spent her three minutes explaining the age of her tax clients and how she would be the last CPA many of her clients would ever have. Thinking she completed the answer she looked to the monitor when Big Valley News asked from the audience, "Where is your firm located?"

A confused Hall looked to Chuck Doud for help, but all the Tribune publisher would say was, "That was the question."

"My firm is located in Merced." a frustrated Hall answered.

All of the county candidates participating in the chamber forums were asked this question which the Chamber accredited to Big Valley News,  "According to property tax exemption records, where is your primary residence?"

For the last two forums every candidate had no trouble answering that they live in  Madera County. However, Mrs. Hall became confused as to what exactly was meant by the question and answered that she was renting a house in Chowchilla. Again that was not the question. Property tax exemptions should be a topic that a Certified Public Accountant, like Mrs. Hall, can speak about easily.

Before each of the county auditor candidates gave their closing statements, Madera District Chamber President Debi Bray re-stated that same question, noting that it really wasn't answered by both candidates. Mrs. Hall again played confused to the wording of the question. So Big Valley News again spoke out from the audience to clarify the question.

"Mrs. Hall, have you taken a $7000 property tax exemption on your home in Merced, a tax exemption that is only available for your primary residence?"

Mrs. Hall finally answered that she had no property in Merced. That in May of 2013 she turned over her share in the property to her husband when she moved to Madera County and that they no longer claim the tax exemption on their home at  2513 Windy Court in Merced.

On Tuesday, the Madera Tribune reported on page three that "Hall said she did not recently file an alleged $7000 tax reduction on a home in Merced under her name that would claim such a house as her primary residence. Instead, she said when she moved to Chowchilla in May she was removed from that reduction and challenged Big Valley News to check with the proper offices for validation of her residency."

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

Last week BVN published an editorial questioning where Marcia Hall and her husband lived. We also questioned whether Mrs. Hall was a full-time private practice CPA or a full-time Madera County Auditor? In researching Mrs. Hall we uncovered a property tax exemption for a $7000 reduction in the value of the Hall's home on Windy Court in Merced County, if she claimed it as her primary property.

We used the Zillow.com website and looked up Mrs. Hall's Windy Court address. The website gave us information on the property, including the ten year property value history. Right above the table that estimates the value of the property is a link to the Merced County Assessor's office database. Clicking on that link brings up the "Official" information on Mrs. Hall's property from the "proper" offices. Listed under the 'values' column is a line for "EXEPMTION" followed by the number "$7000".

Not wanting to depend solely on a website, a phone call was made to the Merced County Assessor's office. The office confirmed that the tax exemption was in place and that according to their office, the owners of the property are Bryan M. and Marcia B. Hall.

Again understanding the importance of this information I did not want to depend on a phone call to an unnamed voice, a physical trip to Merced was necessary. Once in the assessors office the Hall's address was entered into the public access computer and 10 cents later BVN had a physical copy of the exemption that is still in effect on the Hall's Merced home as of April 3, 2014.

A check of the Hall's property with the Merced County Recorders Office showed no transfer of property from Mrs. Hall to Mr. Hall in regards to the Windy Court property. Also the last recorded documents related to that property was a $75,000 refinance by the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union in September of 2012 and substitution of trustee form being filed on behalf of JP Morgan Chase a month later.

So at this point, Big Valley News challenges Mrs. Hall to prove she is no longer taking the property tax exemption for her Merced County home. A tax exemption that Mrs. Hall can only take by state law if she is living in the home for which the exemption is applied.

Hall also says she moved to Chowchilla in May of 2013. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles you must file a change of address form within ten days of that move. Considering that Hall's move was 11 months ago, has she changed her address on her driver's license? I know this sounds petty, but from a donation she made to Madera County Supervisor candidate Ray Krause, as of January 2014 she never even changed her checking account.

The fact that she hasn't even made an effort to change the basics everyone else who moves would do, does begs the question - has she ever really moved out of her home in Merced?

Is her rental in Chowchilla really her home or just an expensive flop house where she can sleep every now and then in her many trips between her private practice office in Merced and her government office in Madera?

Why is an intelligent woman like Marcia Hall evading questions about her Merced property and CPA firm? How much intelligence does it take to realize that all of this information is public record and easy to prove? If she is being evasive in answering these basic questions, what else might she be keeping from Madera voters?


Merced County Assessors Office Database