Letters to the Editor

Property: Assessor taxes us too much

Its very interesting how Mr. Marty Matthews (Letters, July 6) attempted to slip in a free campaign ad for the county assessor, Mr. Tom Baenen. I can only assume that Marty is either a relation, an aspiring co-worker or a close friend of Tom Baenen but certainly not one of the many Island county citizens subjected to the unreasonable and repetitive property assessment escalations inflicted by the county assessor’s office.

Island County is a unique and special place where retirees and rural loving people come to build their dreams and enjoy what they have worked so hard for all their lives. The problem is, in recent years, the county assessor’s office has ruthlessly pursued a diplomacy of regular assessment increases that amount to a punishment to those that strive to improve their property and thus enhance their community. The result is to tax these community minded dreamers off their property while rewarding those who choose to trash their property causing an eyesore on the community.

Indeed, I have first hand experience of Mr. Baenen’s “accurate appraisal system.” When I inquired about my huge assessment increases, I was given the stock standard and very well rehearsed answer, “assessments are based on fair market value using recent comparable sales.” Only problem is, the comps provided bore no true resemblance to my property so I submit, the assessment increases were unfounded!

Now I admit, property values do increase but at some reasonable rate, not 120 percent increase on the land value one year followed by another 16 percent a year later. When I suggested that they look at the property right next to mine, same size, same view, power, water, and septic in, which has been on the market at assessed value for well over two years with no sale, yet this year, it too received a 16 percent increase, I was told that it couldn’t be considered because it wasn’t a “recent sale.” How hypocritical!

Perhaps a change in the tax laws similar to California’s proposition 13 is the true answer but Mr. Baenen’s attack on the citizens he is elected to serve is truly astonishing. His apparent charter is to increase property values to the maximum extent possible so the county budget can continue to grow unchecked. Perhaps spending control would better serve the county than driving its residents away by excessive taxing.

One very interesting side note to Mr. Baenen’s “accurate assessment system” is that both of my recent hefty assessment increases occurred in years where initiatives aimed at limiting property tax increases were on the ballot – and subsequently passed!

In closing, I really must thank Mr. Marty Matthews for reminding me that Mr. Baenen will be running for re-election. Many a sleepy voter may have missed this fact but rest assured, I will not miss this vote!

Kevin Griggs


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