Letters to the Editor

Appraising by the seat of her pants

Newly elected Island County Tax Assessor Mary Engles campaigned on a platform of greater transparency in the workings of her office, and for having written methodology to promote appraiser consistency in valuation.  After eight months in office, I asked her about her goals and achievements.  I’m currently appealing two years of my very unusual parcel in Oak Harbor.

She refused to meet with me, responding, “I feel like you are almost harassing me.”  Has the Department of Revenue’s new assessor orientation convinced her not to have her appraisal methodology available for public review? Does data to back methodology even exist? It does not! How can taxpayers hold elected politicians accountable? Can the assessor appraise by “the seat of her pants,” then do the math to “justify” her opinion?  Appraisal is part art, part science. In Island County, the science is lacking, the art is kindergarten level.

Do you know that the assessor’s valuation is presumed correct and the taxpayer’s incorrect? Feels like “guilty until proven innocent” to me. We should be considered as equals.

The system is broken. Is Mary Engle the one to fix it? We have three more years to find out. Are our legislators helping? There are hundreds of loopholes in the system that simply pass on the tax burden to the rest of us. Real transparency, and the right to appeal as equals would be a great start. The appeal system in Washington is only slightly better; certainly not justice. I’m tired of being bullied by our Assessor’s Office!

Tim Verschuyl
Oak Harbor


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