Embattled Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam,
who’s been silent for weeks as a recall effort against him gathered steam, posted an accounting of his office’s achievements for 2010 on his website this morning.
His list of accomplishments included the same information he presented to the Pierce County Council during its budget deliberations last month.
Washam, who frequently uses his county website as a pulpit, hadn’t put anything that stayed on his page very long since Nov. 4, when he published a copy of a letter from The News Tribune and his reply. The letter pertained to a story The News Tribune was preparing about Washam.
In the seven weeks since that posting, Puyallup resident Robin Farris gained support for her effort to recall Washam. Last week, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas Felnagle ruled there are sufficient legal grounds for the recall effort to proceed to the signature-gathering stage.
Two assessor’s office employees – Mark Williams and Jim Hall – filed claims against the county in recent weeks over their treatment by Washam. Each claim seeks hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. Williams has since resigned from his job.
In the last 18 months, three independent county investigations of employee complaints have led to findings that Washam committed official misconduct, including retaliation, violations of state and federal law, violations of county policy, abuse of power and waste of government resources.
Washam has been pushing hard for a criminal investigation into the actions of his predecessor, Ken Madsen, and Madsen’s staff on grounds they falsified county records and failed to perform their duties.
Thousands of physical inspections were not done – as required by law – during Madsen’s administration. His office said the housing boom leading up to 2008 overwhelmed appraisers, who couldn’t keep up. A new computer system complicated matters.
But local and state officials have refused to investigate on a criminal level, saying no harm was done to taxpayers.
Here’s a copy of today’s posting by Washam:
UPDATE 12/22/2010 – 10:00 AM
ASSESSOR-TREASURER’S OFFICE 2010 ACHIEVEMENT REPORT
So that my employers, the taxpayers, will know what has been achieved in the Assessor-Treasurer’s office, since I took office in January of 2009. I submit the following:
To date, some 145,500 properties have been lawfully physically appraised, which represents 45% of the entire county. In 2009, Pierce County’s assessment quality and performance was ranked as one of the top in the state, based on the 2009 metrics published by the State Department of Revenue and by the Office of Program Research at the State House of Representatives.
Electronic technology has been embraced in order to increase staff productivity, minimize costs and enhance the services the Assessor-Treasurer office offers to the public. We now provide for the electronic filing of personal property affidavits and have begun the process of developing the same ability for all the large industrial accounts in the county.
We have implemented on-line tutorials available on our website for the filing of property valuation appeals and personal property affidavits. We have developed a common electronic repository for all appeals filed, so that property owners no longer need to file duplicate copies of all their documents, and to assist our efforts at establishing a ”paper-free” appeal process. Through the use of an all electronic process, we have been able to eliminate the entire segregation section of our office and transferred those duties to our cartography lab. Our field appraisers are now able to access our CAMA software directly from the field, eliminating the need for duplication of effort. We have greatly increased the quantity and quality of appraisal and assessment data, as well as forms, available for direct download from our website.
All the above has been achieved, while at the same time there was collectively a $1.1 million dollar reduction to our 2009 and 2010 operational budgets, the Assessor-Treasurer’s office has been able to significantly reduce the operating costs on a per parcel basis, while at the same time the number of parcels per FTE has increased by 28%. This has been accomplished in an environment with historically high record number of property valuation appeals having to be processed, while at the same time more than doubling the number of physical appraisals performed each year, as compared with preceding years.
I want you to know, the above facts speak for themselves. In 2011, I will continue to be the taxpayer’s advocate and protect the interest of the taxpayers, my employers.
Thank you for your trust, Dale