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Assessor-treasurer’s office making progress on inspections

Post by Kim Bradford on April 29, 2010 at 9:09 am with 2 Comments »
April 29, 2010 9:09 am

Employee relations aside, how is the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s office doing on completing the physical inspections of properties that went undone under the previous administration?

Pretty well, according to Rangel S. Cavazos at the state Department of Revenue, who responded to the department’s latest progress report earlier this week:

I am pleased to inform you that we see adequate progress by your office in completing the revaluation requirements that are outlined in your current revaluation plan for Pierce County.

Revenue notes that the county had physically inspected 23 percent of the required inspections at the end of 2009. The agency said that was lower than the 33 percent rate that should be expected in the second year of a six-year revaluation cycle, but chalked up the lag to lower completion rate in 2008 before Dale Washam took office.

Revenue does sound a warning, one that will weigh on the county council as it continues to trim budgets to make up for shortfalls:

With 65,000 parcels scheduled for inspection in both the 2011 and 2012 assessment years, your staff will need to complete inspections at a slightly faster rate than in the past. … If the current level of appraisers decreases, then the resulting increase in the number of inspections per appraiser, for assessment years 2011 and 2012, could reach a level that would put you at risk of not completing your revaluation plan.

The big question is: Did the physical inspections turn up values significantly different than what had been recorded under the previous statistical method? I’m emailing the assessor-treasurer’s office to find out.

Categories:
Editorial outtakes
Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. ldozy1234 says:

    “If the current level of appraisers decreases, then the resulting increase in the number of inspections per appraiser, for assessment years 2011 and 2012, could reach a level that would put you at risk of not completing your revaluation plan.”

    Isn’t this almost an exact concern that Washam raised to the Council during earlier budget cut meetings?
    Nice to see the State feels the same way.

  2. derekyoung says:

    I’d make a slight adjustment to your question on how this affected assessments. Because of the way property taxes are levied, even if all properties across the county were let’s say high, it wouldn’t have much of an effect on property taxes. Why? Because the rate is determined by dividing the amount of the levy by the total assessment for the taxing jurisdiction. The assessment doesn’t levy taxes, it determines how they will be shared.

    If everyone’s assessments are proportionately higher than they should be, then the rate compensates for that event because the amount of the levy doesn’t change based on assessments.

    However, it’s possible this method caused individual assessments to be wrong, so in that scenario individual properties would be assessed unfairly low or high causing them to pay too little or too much in taxes compared to comparable properties.

    Because most of the assessment process is, in fact, a numerical calculation using sales of comparable properties to determine worth, I doubt that physical inspections do much to hold assessments down. In fact the main problem would be that assessors wouldn’t catch homes that had made improvements and are therefore being undertaxed, driving up the share other property owners must pay.

    Clearly the previous Assessor wasn’t following the rules, but I’m not sure the outcome of following the rules is going to be what people expect it to be.

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