Thursday, May 13, 2021
May 13, 2021

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Residents of Vancouver manufactured home park ask taxing questions

Cascade Park Estates homeowners — who have seen rent increases in recent years — are challenging property tax assessments

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter
Published:
10 Photos
Claudette Derricotte shows the disparity between assessed values of manufactured homes at Cascade Park Estates in east Vancouver. Residents there are voicing their dissatisfaction with the county's assessment of their manufactured home values, which vary wildly between similarly sized houses.
Claudette Derricotte shows the disparity between assessed values of manufactured homes at Cascade Park Estates in east Vancouver. Residents there are voicing their dissatisfaction with the county's assessment of their manufactured home values, which vary wildly between similarly sized houses. (Photos by Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Nearly a dozen residents of a manufactured home community in east Vancouver are challenging their most recent property tax assessments.

Residents of Cascade Park Estates, a 55-and-older community, say assessments on the properties are inconsistent and confusing. With the hope of lowering the assessments, 11 residents have filed appeals with the Clark County Board of Equalization, according to the county Assessor’s Office.

Claudette and Bob Derricotte, aged in their 70s and 80s, purchased their unit in 2018 for $140,000. Their property’s taxable value rose from $74,714 in 2019 to $113,843 in 2020 and, this year, $138,024.

They’ve been billed $1,520.93 this year for the 1,350-square-foot lot, featuring a ranch-style manufactured house with three bedrooms and 1¾ bathrooms. The Derricottes paid $758.09 to the county in 2019 and have not made major renovations.

The Derricottes are hoping their assessment will be knocked down to $85,000. They cite a J.D. Power report from August that places the 1999 used home’s total adjusted retail value at $30,739.99.

“Why should we be paying that much on a building that is depreciating in value?” Claudette Derricotte said. “If it doesn’t change, we can’t afford to live here in, say, about two years.”

Lynda Scott purchased her 1,296-square-foot unit in 2017 for $132,000. Her taxable value rose from $89,046 in 2019 to $111,575 in 2020 and $118,238 this year.

Scott and other residents at the park have pointed out that some units of similar sizes have wide discrepancies in their tax assessments. For instance, another lot in the community that is the same size as Scott’s was assessed at $69,128 for this year.

“It’s hard to understand how they come to their conclusions on what to charge,” Scott said. “It’s all over the map.”

‘Nothing makes sense’

Claudette Derricotte wrote a letter to Clark County Assessor Peter Van Nortwick in March announcing her complaints.

“I have spent innumerable hours researching this park’s assessment values and nothing makes sense,” the letter reads. “It is difficult to understand the process, and as many questions that we ask, we get a variety of different and conflicting answers from your office. Transparency from you appears to be elusive.”

Van Nortwick responded with a letter that, in part, explained that his office is “mandated by state statute to assess property at 100-percent fair and true market value as of Jan. 1 of each year.” He said that, in addition to square footage, his office uses a computer-assisted mass appraisal program, a market-based cost system that evaluates the quality of construction, roof value and siding type, structure style, heating type, garage type, number of plumbing fixtures and fireplaces and overall structure condition.

“As such, it is not uncommon in (manufactured home parks) to see a wide range of units that are quite different in terms of their property characteristics which result in different market values,” Van Nortwick’s response reads. “Through the annual adjustment process, property values are adjusted either up or down to reflect the most current market conditions expressed by valid market sales.”

Van Nortwick added that 35 unit owners in the community qualify for the county’s Senior Exemption program, which reduces property taxes for qualified seniors and disabled property owners who make less than a certain income.

“The taxable value is often mistaken for market value and creates the appearance of inequity,” the response states.

When reached by The Columbian about the residents’ complaints, Van Nortwick, speaking specifically about the Derricottes, pointed out that the current assessed value of their home is near the 2018 sale price.

“There are taxpayers that don’t want to pay their fair share of property taxes and want the rest of the taxpayers to carry their property tax burden,” Van Nortwick said. “The simple question it comes down to — if they didn’t think it was worth $140,000, why did they purchase it? Secondly, would they be willing to sell it for the $85,000 that they claim it is actually worth?”

The Derricottes’ appeal is scheduled for a hearing on May 17.

“I don’t know how many other parks are going through this,” Claudette Derricotte said. “This could be just the tip of the iceberg.”

Residents of the community have been vocal several times in the past couple of decades about what they’ve considered to be unfair rent increase notices.

On Sept. 29, residents received a notice that their rent would increase by $95 once the state’s moratorium on evictions and rent increases ended, making land rent $945 per month. The moratorium, enacted due to COVID-19, has been extended before but is set to expire June 30.

Columbian county government and small cities reporter
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