Letter: Fasten your seatbelts, hang on to checkbooks

Editor,

We all recently received our Notice of Value from Island County Assessor Mary Engle. Included with this notice, a slip of yellow paper explains, “The legislature requires identification of land and improvements separately on assessment notices, however, only the total assessed value should be considered and based on state law only the total assessed value may be appealed.”

This is something new for this year and it is not correct. It is based on misinterpreted precedence of case law; specifically University Village v King County, 2001.

This case deals only with the income method of real property assessment which is mainly applicable to some commercial properties.

The state Board of Tax Appeals initiated this misinterpretation recently to simplify their administrative procedures.

Justice it is not.

When I called the county Assessor’s Office, the deputy assessor explained that the assessor’s valuation total was accurate, but that improvement valuations were assessed too low and land assessments too high. Why did my land value increase by 20 percent from last year?

All of my neighbors have land values in increments of $50,000. Is that an indication of the lack of accuracy in land assessments?

I have emailed our newest state legislator Rep. Dave Paul with the hope that he can request a state attorney general opinion to clarify interpretation of University Village v King County.

Assessment of Island County real property is far too simplistic and, therefore, inaccurate. When I asked to meet with Engle, the response was, “The assessor’s value is accurate.”

There was no agreement to meet.

There is no adjustment to land values for view quality, orientation, parcel size and encumbrance restrictions, such as wetland or eagle habitat, off-site septic, Navy aircraft noise, paved driveway, extensive landscaping, gazebo, as well as other attributes that we all realize influence market value.

Appraisal methodology is required to be in writing and transparent to the public. It is neither.

We just re-elected Engle, who ran unopposed. Fasten your seatbelts and hang on to your checkbooks.

Tim Verschuyl

Oak Harbor

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