April 25, 2011 in News

State auditor criticizes Spokane County Assessor’s Office

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A newly released state audit report says the Spokane County Assessor’s Office undervalued scores of properties in 2008 and 2009.

The report says new construction on 157 properties in the Cheney area was added to the tax rolls seven years late on average.

Seventy-one of the parcels had a value of more than $100,000, according to the state Auditor’s Office.

In addition to those properties, which were pointed out in a whistleblower complaint by former appraiser Debi Mason, state auditors found 22 – among a sample of 85 – that were added to the tax rolls four years late on average.

Also, auditors found that 21 of 32 parcels valued at $2,000 or less were assessed incorrectly. The land had taxable structures worth $4,400 to $275,000.

Supervisors failed to detect computer coding errors that caused the inaccurate values, auditors said.

They blamed the late Cheney appraisals on staffing shortages that prevented reassignment of an injured appraiser who was unable to walk and take measurements.

Auditors said they didn’t find any untaxed properties, and they were unable to determine the amount of lost property tax revenue from the late assessments. However, they said no taxpayers paid more than their fair share.

As to the incorrect values due to coding errors, auditors said they weren’t able to determine the effect on individual property owners.


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