Kitsap assessor seeks fourth term

Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, who announced his candidacy for a fourth term on March 1.  - Charlie Bermant
Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, who announced his candidacy for a fourth term on March 1.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery announced this week that he will run for a fourth term, pledging to increase the efficiency of the office while incorporating new technology that helps to better serve the public.

“We now have less than 25 full time people on our staff,” Avery, 63, said. “When I came here we had 38. We’ve done this without having to fire anyone, when someone retires we decide the best course of action for their replacement.”

The county added a parcel search component to its Web site under Avery’s watch, allowing immediate access to tax, appraisal and sale records. This saves a lot of time and money, eliminating the need to travel to Port Orchard in order to acquire specific documents. It also makes the data available outside of business hours.

Avery is one of two elected Republicans in Kitsap County government, along with Coroner Greg Sandstrom.

The assessor’s office examines county property and assigns a value, from which property taxes are determined.

Avery said he was proud of the fact that Kitsap County has one of the lowest appeal rates in the state, with less than half of one percent of property owners challenging their assessments.

Kitsap also has a low cost of doing business, averaging out to less than $20 per parcel which is one of the lowest in the state according to Avery.

During his time in office Avery has addressed every service club in the county at least once, and has made presentations explaining his job to anyone who asks. While many taxpayers don”t understand the process clearly, he has made some headway.

“I think that most people understand that a change in property value doesn’t correspond to an increase or decrease in taxes,” he said. “The value of your property can go down, but if you pass a levy the amount that you pay can increase.”

Avery was a real estate broker and spent 20 years as a Naval supply officer prior to running for his first term in 1998. He prevailed over a crowded field of competitors that first election, but was unopposed by either party in 2002. In 2006 the Democrats again did not field a candidate, but faced an unsuccessful primary challenge from Kris Danielson of Port Orchard.

He may not face a challenge this year. Kitsap County Democratic Party Chairman Carl Olson said that the assessor’s office “is not one where we are actively recruiting a candidate.”

Olson said that one reason for this lack of interest is the nature of the office, which is more administrative than political. Additionally, Avery has discharged his duties well.

“We have talked about this a lot and wondered why this is a partisan position in the first place,” Olson said. “The party will support a candidate who decides to run, but there are more important races where we can expend our time and money.”

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