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Feedback: Advantage rests with assessor
I read the article concerning property assessments in Island County. This article confirmed the belief that I have had since 1997. The assessors office procedures are extremely questionable and inconsistent; the assessors are not supervised properly and their work is not double checked for obvious errors before the assessment statements are sent out.
I live on Lone Lake, and I, and some of my neighbors, have filed petitions for hearings with the Board of Equalization in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. On four of those occasions our petitions were upheld by the board, and on one the assessor rolled the value back to the previous year after we had filed, but before the hearing was held.
Up until, I believe, 2002, the assessors would prepare a response to accepted petitions and include an analysis to justify why their values were correct and would also appear at the hearing to testify under oath. They no longer do either.
The reason given by the assessors office for not attending the board hearings was to save money, but the timing seems curiously coincidental, as it followed very shortly after a complaint was made to the county assessor that one of the assessors had made untrue statements, which favored the assessors valuations while testifying under oath at a board hearing.
No reason was ever given for no longer providing any analysis, but I think the answer lies in the headline in the referenced article (News-Times, March 26). Only 900 or so property owners have appealed, so why should they bother? This is a very small percentage of the total properties and they have the rest of them nailed!
Under the law the assessors valuations are presumed to be correct and the petitioner must provide clear and cogent proof to the contrary for the Board of Equalization to uphold the petition. This is a very difficult and onerous task which can take many, many hours of research and preparation.
Few property owners have the time, knowledge or energy to undertake it. And, even if you win, it only lasts a year. The next year, the assessors office jacks it right back up again.
The whole process is heavily weighted in favor of the assessors and needs a thorough investigation and overhaul.
R. E. Robbins