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Roger Malouf wants a larger role in assessments, but Sherman Holland said that’s not the law.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
The two candidates for Roanoke commissioner of revenue debated Saturday, highlighting their different views on how the office should be run.
Republican Roger Malouf, a real estate broker and property manager, is challenging Democrat Sherman Holland, the four-term incumbent.
The pair answered moderated questions following a debate between candidates for Roanoke city sheriff at William Fleming High School.
Malouf, a member of the city’s board of zoning appeals, said at the debate that he would work to have the commissioner’s office handle real estate assessments if elected. That’s currently a function handled by the city’s office of real estate valuation, which is under the city council.
Holland called that a conflict of interest.
“It wouldn’t be right for me to tax someone to try to get more money when that’s not a function” of the commissioner’s office, Holland said.
Malouf disagreed, arguing there’s no conflict between those who assess real estate and those who bill taxes on it.
“The conflict of interest lies today in those who pick the rate, those who spend the money — and then they bill you for it,” he said. “That’s the city council.”
Malouf, calling himself the “candidate of change,” said he’d work with the city council to give guidance as the chief taxing officer to make sure the government taxes appropriately, but also spends appropriately.
Holland said that’s not the commissioner’s job, and accused Malouf of using the office as a steppingstone for another election.
“He wants us to violate the law and make proposals and work with city council when by statutes and by law we’re not allowed to,” Holland said. “My opponent wants to be a legislator. He wants to change the law. We are administrators.”
Malouf scoffed, arguing there’s nothing illegal with constitutional officers and elected officials working together so long as it’s done appropriately. “It happens every day,” he said.
“As an advocate of the people, as your protector … I’m still a citizen of Roanoke. Why can’t I give my opinion?” Malouf asked. “What is more important than saying, ‘Here, I’m Roger Malouf, citizen of Roanoke, and I’ve got something to say.’ ”
Holland cited his 16 years in office as reason to vote for him. Malouf noted his 35 years as a real estate and investment professional and said he has experience in tax law “because I pay all of them.”
“Just because I haven’t done his job, doesn’t mean I can’t do it,” Malouf said. “It won’t take me 16 years to figure out your taxes. It won’t take me 16 years to figure out what’s right and fair for you.”
City Treasurer Evelyn Powers spoke at the event Saturday as well. She’s running unopposed.
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