Letters to the Editor

Taxes: Tax compensation remains evasive

This letter is in response to the Whidbey News-Times, March 26, 2005, articles: “Flawed assessments anger public” and “Tax complaints pour in.”

In November of 2002, we appealed the County’s 2002 tax assessment of our property. The County Assessor responded by performing an immediate and unscheduled reassessment, recommending to the County Board of Equalization that the land value be increased by another twenty thousand dollars (a twenty percent increase). The Island County Board of Equalization convened a hearing on our appeal, without notifying us of the time and place of the hearing, and accepted the Assessor’s recommendation for an increase in value. A little upset at having been denied our right to present our case to the County Board, we appealed to the State Board of Tax Appeals. The assessor did not attend or send a representative to the State Board hearing convened in Coupeville. The State Board agreed with our position, set aside the Board of Equalization’s determination and directed the county assessor and treasurer to restore the original value on the county’s assessment and tax rolls. This “restoration” was never accomplished, perhaps an oversight due to understaffing. Or perhaps the county really considers its Board of Equalization to be the “final word in values” as your subhead stated.

Each subsequent year our assessment has increased, and so have our taxes.

We would like to see an end to the continual reassessments that threatens to force people from their homes. A residential property should be reassessed at its selling price. When it’s sold, period. It wouldn’t take so many assessors to handle that workload.

It’s apparent from the sheer number of unsatisfied customers that the tax assessment and appeal processes here is broken. We’re not ready to sell and move away yet, but we are ready to vote for some new Island County Commissioners who will support property tax relief, even if it means making some hard budget decisions.

For the assessor’s explanation of why paying “your fair share of the total property tax levy” means that your property taxes can be increased every year, read about the “Simple Levy Process” at http://www.islandcounty.net/assessor/LevyProcess.htm

Good luck to all one thousand of you Island County tax appellants. We hope you receive better service than we have.

Donald and Elizabeth Wright

Coupeville

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