TAMPA — Phones are ringing again at the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office.
Late Monday, Verizon had nearly finished its work on damaged cables that had left 300 customers, including the appraiser's office, without phone service since Thursday.
The phone outage came at the worst possible time for the appraiser's office, which is in the midst of its busiest season of the year. Officials just sent out notices telling property owners their valuations, exemptions and projected tax bills.
The Democratic candidate for property appraiser, former state Rep. Bob Henriquez, called Tuesday for authorities to extend today's deadline for valuation and exemption appeals, given the lack of access to the appraiser's office in recent weeks.
"The office has been closed for the (Republican National Convention) and a hurricane," Henriquez said.
"While satellite offices were open, for a lot of citizens, if downtown is closed, the office is closed," he said.
Henriquez submitted a letter to the county's Value Adjustment Board asking it to consider the limited access some residents have had to the office in considering late appeals. He also sent a letter to the Department of Revenue asking it to consider a blanket extension of time for appeals.
A spokeswoman for the department said it has no authority to issue such a blanket extension.
Citizens with concerns about their tax assessments can ask for an extension of time to file a petition challenging it. A special magistrate who makes recommendations on appeals to the Value Adjustment Board can take into account extenuating circumstances in deciding whether to grant more time.
Those who feel they have been thwarted in their efforts to resolve their assessment with the property appraiser's office first, before turning to the value board, were urged to be specific in explaining why they deserve an extension.