Our March Speaker – San Diego County Assessor/Recorder, Ernie Dronenburg

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Ernie Dronenburg was first elected as San Diego County’s Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk in November 2010 and was re-elected to that position in 2014. He is responsible for the overall operations and policy of the 393 person tripartite organization. With a $53 million budget, the office is charged with assessing all property located in San Diego County for property tax purposes, recording of all legal documents and maintaining the legal property records for the County, providing licenses for marriages, issuing death and birth certificates and recording and maintaining files on Fictitious Business Names. There are five offices in the county with the headquarter office on Harbor Dr. in San Diego and branch offices in Chula Vista, El Cajon, Kearny Mesa and San Marcos. Prior to his elections, Ernie was considered an expert in state and local tax administration – having been involved at all levels of tax administration for over 28 years. A graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in Business Administration and Finance, he first worked for five years as an industrial engineer at NCR and Solar in San Diego. Ernie then spent seven years working for the California State Board of Equalization as a Tax Auditor. In the evenings during this same time, he helped start a national racquetball equipment manufacturing company. Then in 1978, Ernie won his first of five consecutive four-year terms as a Member of the California State Board of Equalization Board Member. He served as Chairman of the Board of Equalization as well as a member and was the Chairman of the Franchise Tax Board on five different occasions. Ernie has held the position of president and/or board member on almost every major state tax association in the United States, including, in 1997, being a commissioner on the IRS Restructuring Commission, President of the Federation of Tax Administrators, Western States Association of Tax Administrators and Founding/President of the Border States Caucus. During his years in office, he heard more than 20,000 tax appeals and co-wrote the initial rules for property tax Prop 13. Among the significant pieces of tax legislation that Ernie has been sponsor and principal drafter of is the California Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. During his time in state office, he received many awards and distinctions. In his last year in office, he was given two significant tributes that have never been given to any other state tax administrator. The first was the 1998 Distinguished Public Service Award by the National Tax Executives Institute (TEI), an honor he was truly proud to receive, and then the State Board of Equalization named its only major conference room in its Sacramento headquarters the ‘Ernest J. Dronenburg, Jr. Conference Room’. Ernie left the State Board of Equalization in 1998 due to term limits. In 1999 Ernie joined Deloitte & Touche as a national Tax Partner, specializing in State and Local Tax controversy and governmental relations. During his 11 years with Deloitte, he was engaged by several of the Fortune 500 companies to solve California State income tax controversy issues. Ernie became internationally known for his knowledge of State taxes and his skills in tax controversy and lectured nationally on the subjects. Because of Deloitte’s mandatory retirement rules for partners, he was required to retire from the firm in June of 2006. He was then employed as a consultant to the firm for the next four years. To serve his local community, in July 1999 he agreed to an appointment to the San Diego County Board of Education. His fellow members elected him President of the Board in January 2000 and re-elected him in January 2001. He was elected to fill out the remainder of a four-year term in November 2000. He then was elected to his own four-year term in March 2002. Ernie and his wife, Marilyn, have seven grandchildren and live on a 33-acre wholesale production flower farm in Fallbrook. Marilyn is locally famous for her flower gardens and has written two books. The farm and gardens have been featured in several gardening magazines. In his leisure time, Ernie is an avid sailor and sports fan.

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