Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Assessor’s office falls behind

Luanne Raavel hit the nail squarely on the head in her letter regarding the sad state of affairs in the Isalnd County Auditor’s office (March 2, Whidbey News-Times). Our experience has been just as bad with both the Assessor’s Office and the Auditor’s Office. In November 2003, we received our Notice of Change of Value and felt we were unfairly assessed on land that is under water much of the year. We applied for and were granted a hearing with the Board of Equalization which occurred on January 23, 2004. After that the system, if there is one, fell apart.

We paid the first half of our taxes in April 2004, as originally requested. We were told that the Assessor’s Office was “running a little behind” and hadn’t made a decision regarding our hearing yet. By the first of August 2004, when we still hadn’t heard the result of the hearing. I resorted to calling Don Mason almost every day. Most of the time, he wasn’t in the office but was away at seminars or on vacation. Finally on Sept. 8, he was in the office and told me the results were going in the mail that day. Eureka! My problems were over ... not! I did receive a “value adjusted” notice on Sept. 9, lowering the value of the land by a substantial amount.

Naively, I called the Assessor’s Office right away to find out how much that lowered our taxes. I was passed off to the Auditor’s Office where I was told that they couldn’t figure that out right away and that it might take a couple of months to get the amount. It should be a formula based on the various taxes in your area but apparently it’s more complicated that that ... hence they can decide you owe more later as they did for Ms. Raavel.

In Oct. 2004, I was told to “go ahead and pay the full amount of the second half of the taxes,” as they still had not figured it out. I did that because I had no choice.

Well, here it is March 2005, and we still have not been told what our corrected amount of tax was for 2004. This is ludicrous. There is no way that it should take more than a year to get an answer. The system is definitely broken. What can we do about it? What recourse do we have? We’ve done our part. County offices need to do theirs.

Pat Lamont

Oak Harbor

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