Letters to the Editor

Island County assessor gets to root causes

The recent Whidbey News-Times article about the levy shortfall for the Coupeville School District inflamed many to jump to the conclusion that Assessor Dave Mattens was the total cause of the problem. Because of this event and two other errors from his office many citizens concluded Mattens was totally incapable of performing as our county assessor. Not only were you incompetent you were not even a leader, trainer, or motivator of your overworked budget-reduced staff, but shouts of “Three strikes you’re out” were the battle cry.

Well, true to form, Mattens did it again ... just as he did when he researched and lead Island County to an improved state-of-the-art information system that many talked about needing for the past 10-plus years, but they only applied Band-Aids to the old designed systems and accomplished little, if anything. Mattens made it happen!

This time he investigated and identified the root causes (not symptoms) of Coupeville School District levy problem, i.e., the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Northwest Educational School District.

Great to see that he has now taken proactive steps to prevent this type of error from occurring in the future by working with both agencies to make their reporting is clearer and less ambiguous and strongly urged them to use the “Levy Certification Sheet” for reporting levy information recommended by the Department of Revenue.

Mattens also adopted a new in-house levy policy that will provide two weeks of uninterrupted time for two levy analysts to work on this mission-critical function. He has also developed an outreach workshop program for Island County taxing districts to assist them in processing their specific levy calculations and required reporting, such as a levy certification, or a resolution, and a specific dollar amount for any refund levies.

The new information system being implemented this year for both the assessor and the treasurer’s office will provide streamlined and more reliable calculations. Best of all, Mattens will provide all taxing districts with an affidavit to sign that they agree with your final values.

Bill Strowbridge

Oak Harbor

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