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Taxes: Problem lies with assessor
Ms. Luanne Raavels letter to the editor, from the March 2 Whidbey News-Times, points out a bad, and probably growing, problem that really needs to be addressed. That is the late billing of property taxes. The source of the problem, however, is not primarily with the treasurers office. They cannot bill tax payers until they receive information from the tax assessors office, and obviously, the tax assessor is not providing it in a timely manner. When the assessor provides billing based on old information to the treasurer, just to get some sort of billing out, and then later adds more current assessment information, then the treasurer has to bill again. Obviously, this is not the the right way to to run the assessors office.
Earlier, the law required that the assessment notices (i.e. Change of Value Notice) be supplied to the tax payer by the end of June. However, that was changed by case law to require that the assessment notice had to be mailed only early enough in the year to give the taxpayers a 30 day appeal period during that calendar year. Last years notice didnt even meet that Dec. 1, deadline, and obviously, some did not include the most current information.
This is a very poor way to run an office. It is unfair to the taxpayers and is a waste of county money.
So how do we fix the problem? We can either put up with this unacceptable situation until he (Assessor Tom Baenen) comes up for election again or try to get him recalled. Does the current tax assessor have the appropriate academic credentials for the job? Since he was re-elected recently, enough voters believe he does. If so, what is the problem? Perhaps it is his management skills that need improving.
All I know is that years ago, we did receive our assessment notices during the summer, and they did not need to be amended with another notice. Therefore, there is no acceptable reason why the complete and accurate notice cannot be sent prior to Dec. 1. Something is terribly wrong, and the cause of it, whatever or whoever it is, needs to be weeded out.