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Island County treasurer not notified in taxation snafu

Island County Treasurer Linda Riffe is miffed that she is one elected official who was not notified about an error in the Island County Assessor’s Office that could have cost the Coupeville School District more than $150,000.

Riffe said Wednesday that she didn’t know of the situation, or attempts to resolve the problem until she received a telephone message Tuesday seeking comment.

“I probably should have been informed,” said Riffe, whose office disperses funds to the junior taxing districts in Island County. She added her office would have been helpful in addressing any statutory and legal ramifications of any possible solution.

She met with Island County Commissioners during a Wednesday morning staff session to discuss the situation.

Coupeville School District officials announced this week the Island County Assessor made an error in calculating the district’s maintenance and operations levy. That error, which accounted for the levy rollback twice, could have cost the cash-strapped school district $158,000 for the year. Assessor Dave Mattens said Riffe wasn’t notified yet because staff were still researching the causes of the problem and trying to find a suitable solution to help the school district.

“My office was terribly busy,” Mattens said. He questioned who’s responsibility it was to notify the treasurer’s office. For example, the Education Service District, the Coupeville School District, the County Commissioners and the Assessor’s Office have been involved in resolving the error.

County officials are considering a number of solutions ranging from taking out a loan to dipping into reserves to ensure the schools receive its full tax collection. Mattens said the attorneys at the Island County Prosecutor’s Office are reviewing possible resolutions.

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