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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County files appeal to reverse tax-break ruling

Spokane County will continue to fight a tax break for military veterans and low-income retirees it says the city of Spokane illegally promised. The state has joined the county, saying the appeal is necessary to keep cities from stepping on their taxing authority. Now Washington appellate judges will decide.

Judge orders county to refund tax payments to 5,000 city residents

Spokane County has been ordered to issue refunds to about 5,000 Spokane residents who paid higher taxes because of a street levy approved by city voters last fall. County Assessor Vicki Horton and Treasurer Rob Chase said they’re deciding whether to issue the refunds or appeal the ruling. Meanwhile, city officials accuse the county of creating the problem.

Woman wins public records lawsuit against Spokane County

A Spokane woman unhappy with an increase in her property taxes has won a $26,325 judgment against Spokane County, which failed to provide a public record she sought as part of a series of requests. The record in question was an old website article on how to improve chances of winning a tax appeal. The county provided thousands of other documents in response to a series of public records requests and contends the failure was an oversight that was complicated by turnover in the assessor’s office.

Republicans Horton, Trainor vie for Spokane County assessor

The Spokane County Assessor’s Office places well on state tests measuring its performance despite dwindling budgets and staffing levels. Incumbent Assessor Vicki Horton, who took over the office by defeating her boss, then-Assessor Ralph Baker, in the 2010 election, credits the work of her employees for that continued level of service.

Property values fall for year two

The silver lining in newly released Spokane County property values is that they didn’t decline as much as last year’s. The county’s overall assessed value fell for the second year in a row, but only about half as much as last year’s $794.9 million drop.

Audit of Spokane County assessor’s office finds late appraisals

The Spokane County assessor’s office undervalued scores of properties for years, according to a state audit for 2008 and 2009. The report released Monday says new construction on 157 properties in the Cheney area was added to the tax rolls seven years late on average during the two-year audit period. Seventy-one of the parcels had a value of more than $100,000, according to the state auditor’s office.

Assessor office requests traced to ex-employee

Anonymous requests for hundreds of thousands of Spokane County assessor’s records have been traced to a former employee. Appraiser Josh Bungen, who resigned Jan. 5, used untraceable Hotmail email addresses to request what Assessor Vicki Horton said was enough documents to cripple her office.

Assessor, treasure shuffle deputies after county election

The Spokane County assessor’s and treasurer’s offices have new chief deputies as well as new elected department heads. Treasurer Rob Chase planned to retain Chief Deputy Treasurer Bob Wrigley, but was forced to hire a new deputy last month when county commissioners selected Wrigley for a new countywide budget director position.

Assessor says anonymous, burdensome records requests are intentional

Anonymous public disclosure requests threaten to cripple two Spokane County departments, commissioners were told Tuesday. Assessor Vicki Horton and Information Systems Director Bill Fiedler said numerous scattershot requests for documents from two untraceable e-mail addresses could tie up their departments for decades.

New assessor to replace chief deputy with appraiser

Vicki Horton says she’ll reorganize the Spokane County Assessor’s Office when she takes charge in January, but only Chief Deputy Assessor Kevin Best will be dismissed. Best was recruited by Assessor Ralph Baker, whom Horton defeated with nearly 56.7 percent of the vote in the Nov. 2 general election.

Voters vent frustrations with GOP gains in county, state

Democrat Chris Marr conceded defeat Wednesday night in the record-breaking million-dollar battle for a Spokane County state Senate seat. Marr made up some ground in the second day of ballot counting against Republican Michael Baumgartner, but he said it was too little to make a difference.

Spokane County assessor race

Incumbent Ralph Baker faces a challenge from one of his own appraisers, Vicki Horton, who accuses him of mismanagement.

Assessor discusses recovery from eye cancer

People who look closely might notice that one of Spokane County Assessor Ralph Baker’s eyes doesn’t move with the other. They might even figure out that his left eye is a Plexiglas prosthesis. Children and dogs notice, but most adults don’t, Baker said Monday.

Six candidates vie for county assessor

Spokane County Assessor Ralph Baker has more challengers than a bear has fleas – and he picked up one of them, appraiser Vicki Horton, in his own den. The den used to belong to another of Baker’s five opponents, former Assessor Sadie Charlene Cooney.