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Property value growth slows

Change of value notices were mailed by the Island County Assessor’s Office yesterday, an expediency that may surprise some residents.

Preliminary calculations show an overall increase in property value of just over 15 percent, as opposed to 37 percent last year. Most of the increases this year are in land values. Last year both land and improvements, which includes buildings or structures, increased equally.

In 2005, the county was assessed at $9.1 billion. In 2006 the value was $12.4 billion. This year the value is at $14.3 billion.

Islanders will know soon how their individual properties fared.

“Property owners can expect to receive their notices the first week of September,” said Assessor Dave Mattens. “Please don’t confuse the change of value notice with your tax bill.”

Change of value notices have been redesigned this year to be more readable for the property owner. In addition to including valuable information, the notices contain a small list of definitions at the bottom of the front page to assist property owners in understanding their notices, as well as assessment, exemption, and appeal information on the back of the page.

With Mattens still in his first year in office, the staff gained two months over the last four to five years in getting the notices in the mail.

“This was accomplished in large part because of the team effort,” he said, crediting his entire staff.

Outsourcing the printing and mailing of the nearly 52,000 notices was also a boon to productivity this year, Mattens added. More than 20 county departments in the state are utilizing the service, including the Island County Treasurer’s Office.

After conducting his own investigation, Mattens became convinced of the service’s value and went with the Spokane company The Master’s Touch, LLC.

“I’m paying my appraisers to do appraisal work, not to stuff envelopes,” Mattens said. “This service saved my office nearly a week-and-a-half of time using half a dozen employees, and several people from the Central Services department.

“Again, with nearly 52,000 notices to mail, this was a huge factor in helping my office reach the goal of being back on the property tax schedule.”

“If you have questions about your valuation please call or visit the assessor’s office and ask for a review,” Mattens said.

If a property owner has sufficient reason to believe their property assessment does not accurately reflect market value, they have 60 calendar days from the Aug. 31 date of mailing to file an appeal.

The Assessor’s Office can be reached at 679-7303.

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