Latest Leeks on Status of the Skagit County Assessor                                     11/27/2011

(Leek One):  The new Deputy Assessor, hired by Assessor Don Munks last week, will supposedly report for duty on Monday, December 5.  We’re not sure if he’s enjoying a relaxing vacation before digging into his new job here, or if he’s trying to tidy up things on his former job working for the Washington State Department of Revenue.

(Leek Two):  On November 23, I sent an email to Will Honea, the Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Skagit County, expressing my concern about the seemingly “irregular” nature of Don Munks’ hiring R. C. Cavazos as the replacement for Wes Hagen, the former Deputy Assessor.  I explained it seemed “irregular” since Cavazos was the very man who did the Revaluation portion of the Washington Department of Revenue Property Tax Division “2011 Review of the Physical Inspection and Revaluation Process in Skagit County” published in August 2011. I explained to Mr. Honea that this situation reminded me of the old “Revolving Door” issues at The Boeing Company in years past.

Twenty minutes later, Mr. Honea sent an email back to me saying, essentially, that he didn’t see any problem in Mr. Munks’ selection for Deputy Assessor.  Then he referenced a current popular NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” with a similar story line. 

(Leek Three):  Since I was concerned about Mr. Honea’s apparent lack of interest in an issue that troubled a citizen of Skagit County, I wrote a second email, expressing my concern, to four people who work for the Washington State Department of Revenue Property Tax Division.  That email was sent at the end of the day on Wednesday, November 23, and I have not yet had any response.  Although, since I am a citizen and taxpayer of both Skagit County and the State of Washington, I would expect some sort of response.  A response that is hopefully less flippant than the one I received from Mr. Honea.

(Leek Four):  In the Sunday, November 27, 2011, issue of the Skagit Valley Herald, a letter to the editor, titled “Tax assessments flawed,” was published.  The interesting thing about this letter to the editor, written by Cathy Scott of Bow, WA, is that Ms. Scott was writing about a recent article in the Skagit Valley Herald, and was absolutely correct in expressing her concerns about what she read in the newspaper.

The problem is:  either Assessor Don Munks was wrong in what he stated to the reporter; or the Skagit Valley Herald printed a quote that was wrong.  The bottom line is that someone is wrong:  our Assessor or our newspaper.

The issue she discussed in her letter to the editor referred to a front page story, written by Kate Martin, published in the November 20, 2011, issue of the Skagit Valley Herald, where the title “Dropping in Value” was printed in larger-than-normal letters.

In that article, Don Munks was quoted as saying his office has been basing home values on foreclosure and short sales.  “A lot of (property value drops) are being affected by these short sales, the foreclosures, the bargain, the distress sales,” Munks said.

That, however, is NOT the case.  The Skagit County Assessor’s Office does not, in fact, base home values on foreclosure and short sales.  So … it seems to Skagit Leeks that we have two sources of mis-information:  our County Assessor, Don Munks, who does not seem to know how his office operates; and our newspaper, the Skagit Valley Herald, which appears to print stories without verifying their accuracy.

What are we citizens and taxpayers supposed to think about this dismal situation?