Okanogan County Assessor asking for input on changing valuation cycle

Okanogan County is currently approved through the state of Washington Department of Revenue as a cyclical revaluation county. That means that every fourth year your property is re-appraised based upon sales of similar property in your area. This can lead to tremendous jumps in your assessed value if the real estate market in your area has recently experienced an upswing.

Out of the 39 counties in the state, 18 are cyclical in nature while the other 21 are annual counties. For the 21 counties that are annual, every year property values are adjusted statistically to reflect what has occurred in their market area in the prior year.

Going to an annual revaluation cycle will allow the assessor's office to react quickly to not only upswings in value but also decreases in value as the market dictates. An annual revaluation cycle lends itself to predictability in everyone's property tax bill, in that assessment increases or decreases will be of a more gradual nature, as opposed to getting four years worth of market appreciation applied to your assessment in a one-year period.

Going to an annual revaluation cycle will take away the property tax shifts that occur within the county when one area of the county has been re-appraised and brought up closer to market value while the other three-quarters of the county stay the same. All areas of the county, if the markets warrant, will be adjusted either up or down based upon market sales. It would not lead to a money grab due to Initiative 747, which limits increases in non-voter-approved levies to one percent more than they collected in the prior year plus increases in levy capacity due to new construction. The levy rates for the 63 different taxing district levies in Okanogan County will be adjusted so, by law, the district will only get what is coming to them.

The Okanogan County Assessor's Office is currently working on the preliminary changes necessary to make an annual revaluation happen in Okanogan County. It will take about one year to obtain the necessary training and get approval from the Department of Revenue to do this.

I am asking for your input at this time. Is this a good thing for us to do or a bad thing?

While it will cost more in postage each year, I do not anticipate hiring any new employees to make this change. By law, physical inspections in cyclical counties may be conducted every sixth year. We plan on implementing this physical inspection cycle as well. That will free up one employee to assist in the statistical verification of sales.

Personally I think it's time we stepped up and created an assessment process which reacts quicker to the market, particularly in a downward market, and will take out the huge increases in assessments and tax shifts that occur with the present four-year revaluation cycle.

Please call or write me with your thoughts at: Scott Furman, Okanogan County Assessor, PO Box 152, Okanogan, WA 98840. (509) 422-7190

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