In his Nov. 15 letter, Tim Verschuyl notes how property assessments are so radically subject to opinionated argument. It’s not a new or isolated problem. California dealt with it by adopting their famous — or infamous —“Proposition 13” that among other things froze assessments at their purchase price.
This, of course, takes any argument out of assessed values, but it sure elicited dire predictions of calamity and chaos from frightened officials from other states. Nevertheless the “evil legislation” withstood court challenges all the way to the nation’s Supreme Court and to date has been in place for almost 40 years without California falling into the ocean as naysayers insisted would happen.
Oak Harbor’s Boyer property scandal is a valid case in point. It seems that just a few years ago the well connected Mr. Boyer sold acreage to a government consortium for some five times the perennial assessed value. How on earth did that happen? But of course that has long been swept under the rug.
So except for inheritances, gifts, or new construction, why not let purchase price be the set assessed value and get rid of humbug property reassessing altogether? It sure would end disagreements and produce some other sensible benefits too.
Some county assessors, Jefferson County for one, have even argued for this change.
One benefit would be providing a seniority edge for our longtime residents who bought at more sensible prices. Heck, they are our pioneers anyway.
“Unfair to newcomers” you say?
Well aren’t newcomers the ones causing government cost increases?
Why should those who maintain their property — to the benefit of the whole neighborhood — be penalized by assessment increases?
Another thing: as far as government is concerned, unlike California’s Proposition 13, this approach is completely revenue neutral. Who wants to argue against that?
Just think of the savings to taxpayers when the cost of everlasting property reassessments is abolished?
It sounds like a win-win situation for everyone– except maybe the real estate industry. Who knows, it could be a selling point for them too.