I read with interest about this struggle with the county assessor, Peter Van Nortwick (“Taxes prove a trap too deep,” The Columbian, May 26).
I am fully on board with paying property and other taxes, and believe in supporting the common good. My property taxes have tripled since moving here 18 years ago. Nothing about the home or land has changed, except development happening all around.
It appears to me the current county assessor engages in real estate speculation as opposed to valuation. The article states: “Van Nortwick, on the other hand, said that the owners’ discussions with the housing developer is proof that his office’s valuations were correct.”
I fail to see how purported discussions with a developer prove anything. Isn’t real estate appraisal supposed to have something more solid to base valuation on? I have appealed my property tax revaluation annually for many years. The Board of Equalization has ruled in my favor, then the next year the assessor doubles down. The next revaluation notice does not just come back at the prior year’s amount, which the Board of Equalization agreed was too high, but substantially higher.
I don’t know what the control mechanism would be to rein in the assessor’s office, but I understand the assessor is an elected official.