Arbitrary assessments for property taxes | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

By now, we all have received our property tax bill and wonder whether the assessor’s numbers are correct.

When buying anything, we compare, to make sure the price is right.

However, with property taxes, what do we compare them to?

Last year, just for the heck of it, I compared our property taxes to those of our neighbor’s and discovered that we were assessed $100,000 higher for the land section only. Same topography, except my neighbor had 30 feet more waterfront.

I then compared 15 “similar or comparable” (state law lingo) properties in our neighborhood and found roller coaster assessments from minus 39 percent to plus 65 percent for 2017. That was surprising since we all live on a dirt road with our land being subject to the Bainbridge Island Critical Area Ordinance. Meaning, nothing can be done to the land, not even a tree can be trimmed. Why such arbitrary assessments? What logic is the assessor using?

Armed with my neighborhood statistics I appealed our assessment to the Board of Equalization and our assessment was equalized to the assessed value of the land right next door from us.

I suggested to the assessor to compare properties in the neighborhood and Assessor Cook wrote me twice: “We cannot use your neighbor’s value as a comparison.” Why not? Real estate businesses do. What the assessor did use were three properties miles from our home, each one valued twice our property. How is the “comparable or similar”?

We don’t mind paying my fair share of taxes but do mind the arbitrariness of the system. The appraiser at the Board of Equalization meeting told us: “We just don’t to things this way”.

Well maybe it is time to act more like a business and less like a bureaucracy.

JAMES BEHREND

Crystal Springs

More in Letters to the Editor

Paying public officials what they are worth | Letter to the editor

To the editor: In the Oct. 5, 2018 edition of the Islander,… Continue reading

Bainbridge council is making a short-sighted choice | Letter to the editor

To the editor: I just returned home from my volunteer job at… Continue reading

Election Day is only the beginning | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Great news that voters are turning out in higher… Continue reading

Don’t make others deal with your trash | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Oct. 15, 5 p.m.: Post office garbage can was… Continue reading

Trump missed his roll in journalist’s murder | Letter to the editor

To the editor: If Jamal Khashoggi died in a fist fight, where… Continue reading

Focus on inclusion, not identity politics | Letter to the editor

To the editor: While I was unable to make the event due… Continue reading

‘Bully’ label came from old political squabble | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Three citizens have complained to the city’s Ethics Committee… Continue reading

Trump shows violence comes in many forms | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Trump forces himself on Pittsburgh after the mayor, Jewish… Continue reading

A radical shift in immigration policy | Letter to the editor

To the editor: On Oct. 10, 2018 the Trump administration published the… Continue reading

Americans deserve stronger response | Letter to the editor

To the editor: I believe Americans need to take steps to address… Continue reading

The emperor has no clothes – and no clue | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Mr. Olsen has a valid point: “the jaundiced elite… Continue reading

Prop. 1 may not be perfect but vote yes | Letter to the editor

To the editor: I’ve been a recreational bike rider on Bainbridge Island… Continue reading