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D.C.'s CFO sharply defends tax assessments

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Photo - D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi (Examiner file photo)
D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

The District's chief financial officer aggressively defended his office's practice of lowering assessments of commercial properties through settlements and said he would welcome a review by city lawmakers.

In an interview Tuesday morning on NewsChannel 8, Natwar Gandhi said that although his office had lowered the cumulative assessments on more than 500 properties by about $2.6 billion, the District was not making extreme sacrifices.

"We are not giving away the store," Gandhi said. "We are aggressive tax collectors -- equitable, of course -- but aggressive."

He also said he would cooperate any hearings that D.C. Council might stage about the settlements.

"We will be delighted to go before the council and go before the media and answer all of the questions," Gandhi said.

In the same interview, Stephen Cordi, the deputy CFO for tax and revenue, said the city entered into settlements to avoid prolonged litigation, something he said the Washington Post ignored when it disclosed the settlements last week.

"The fundamental error in the Post's reporting is the assumption that the District would have won every one of those cases," Cordi said. "The increase in the number of settlements is largely tied to market volatility."

Even as the FBI reportedly conducts a probe into the settlements, Mayor Vincent Gray said last week that he still had confidence in Gandhi, whose re-appointment the D.C. Council approved last month.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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