Opinion

Assessor, Board of Equalization just following state laws

By TIM MATTHES
For the Independent

This past week at the Port Orchard City Council meeting, disparaging remarks were made about the Kitsap County Assessors’ Office and the Board of Equalization.

These comments included suggestions that Jim Avery and the board are the reason that property taxes in Port Orchard are too high, and that going to the board was a waste of time.

One local resident implied that a recall of Avery might be a possibility because he raised our taxes.

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola stated that he talked to Mr. Avery and did not believe his explanation of why commercial property is assessed so high.

Go to the city of Port Orchard’s website and listen to the public comments at the start and at the end of the May 24 council meeting.

I am the chair of the Kitsap County Board of Equalization and have conducted several thousand hearings in the last seven years of service.

Last night’s comments offended me, especially when they are being made at the expense of the truth.

These misinformed participants bashing the Assessor’s Office and the BOE have an incomplete knowledge of the laws of the State of Washington, and the instructions from the Department of Revenue that this county must follow.

I recommend that before anyone publicly talks about class-action lawsuits or recalling a public official, they should take the time to learn about the laws governing the subject.

If you do not take the time to understand the rules and laws, you will surely embarrass yourselves and your city.

Read WAC 458.12 — Property tax division rules for Assessors. Or WAC 458.14 — Boards of Equalizations. Read RCW 84.04 through 84.98 — Property taxes, and the Department of Revenue training manual pursuant to RCW 84.48.046.

The Board of Equalization follows all of these laws and regulations, and provides each taxpayer that requests a hearing, a fair, thoughtful, and competent decision based on the laws of the state.

I am very proud to work with our dedicated and honorable clerk and board.

For the record, Jim Avery, Kitsap County Assessor, manages one of the best elected offices in all of Kitsap County.

He follows the State Department of Revenue rules and the state laws on property assessments.

He manages his department with integrity and openness, and has unquestionably the best assessor’s staff in the state.

His quiet competence makes him an easy target for those not willing to get their facts straight.

I cannot stand silently by and let Jim, his staff or the Board of Equalization be categorized in this manner.

Public comments such as the ones made at this council meeting only serve to incite folks to react before they know the facts, and that is never a good thing to do.

I cannot speak with authority as to what the mayor does know, but it is obvious to me he has not taken the time to read the tax codes or understand the methods that the Assessor’s Office uses in arriving at the assessed values for property in Kitsap County.

My grandmother taught me to choose sweet words because I might have to eat them. Too bad their grandmothers didn’t do the same for them.

Tim Matthes is chairman of the Kitsap County Board of Equalization.

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