Asotin County Assessor’s Office
Section 1: Background of Assessor’s Office.
The Asotin County
Assessor’s Office is currently staffed by the Assessor and three full-time
employees, having recently lost a half-time position subsequent to the election
of Chris Wood as Asotin County Assessor.
Asotin County is on a four-year assessment cycle with 25% of
all real estate property parcels inspected and revalued each calendar year.
There are 13,727 parcels in the revaluation cycle per Department of Revenue
statistics and local county records.
The reduction in staff, and the legislative mandate to revalue
all properties on an annual basis beginning in 2014 necessitated redistribution
of duties within the Assessor’s Office.
The elected Assessor is responsible for all duties inherent to
the office such as DOR reports, calculating and compiling statistical
information, calculation of tax levies, and management of the office. It was
necessary that the Assessor also retain responsibility for Commercial and Land
Valuation until future training allows for the transfer of some of these duties
to other appraisal staff.
The Chief Deputy’s primary duties included management of the
Farm and Timber Properties, Current Use, Cartography, Data Maintenance and
management of the office when the Assessor is absent. This position has recently
been state accredited and the Chief Deputy now assists the Residential Appraiser
in the appraisal of residential properties and new construction. The Chief
Deputy is also in the process of learning Commercial and Land Valuation
The Residential Appraiser is primarily assigned to Residential
Appraisal, New Construction Appraisal, Maintenance of the Public Website, and
maintenance of the databases for Land, Commercial, and Farm Sales. This Sales
database is utilized by the public, title companies, banks, public appraisers
The fourth position in the office performs data entry and files
maintenance for all Residential Properties and is solely responsible for the
Senior Exemption Program and the Business Personal Property Program.
All positions share on-site customer-service responsibilities
and responsibility for answering phones and correspondence as needed.
With the redistribution of duties and some technical
modifications to our computer programs (“ATS”), the office has partially
adjusted to the reduction in staff. For the first time in many years our
revaluation postings will balance, which is affirms the accuracy of our
revaluation records and levy calculations. Additionally, we may complete our
Revaluation a month earlier than in 2009, although the State suggests a target
completion date in May. This deadline is currently still outside our
The statutory mandate to convert to annual revaluation poses a
very great challenge. Without significant technological enhancements, we will
not be able to meet the future requirements. Many counties have purchased
software “packages” designed for annual revaluation and ‘mass appraisal’. Our
research places the cost of these programs between $350,000 and $450,000 (or
higher) for initial costs plus $40,000 to $70,000 annual maintenance fees.
Given Asotin County’s current and projected financial problems,
the purchase of a software package solution is clearly impractical. In light of
our recent successes with innovations and improvements to our existing
Assessor’s software system, we suggest enhancing our existing system as the
practical and affordable alternative.
The mandate to convert to annual poses another challenge as
well. The property revaluation that precedes annual conversion requires a high
degree of accuracy to establish a foundation for future revaluation cycles.
After conversion to annual revaluation, we will only have an opportunity to
physically inspect properties every six years, although the inspection will be
complete and thorough. This accuracy will necessitate a physical inspection of
the majority of properties, especially those with structural improvements. The
four year conversion cycle begins in 2011. The Assessors office with current
staffing is able to complete our revaluation by early to late October. The
established state target is May.
In order to complete the higher level of assessment for
properties in the four years preceding conversion, we may also require the
services of contract appraisers for a number of months each year of the
Asotin County owns a proprietary computer system utilized by
the Assessor, Treasurer, Building and Planning, Public Works, City of Clarkston
and other semi-public and private agencies such as the Public Utility District,
banks and title companies. This system contains property information including
ownership, legal descriptions, tax history, deed history, sales data and
transaction history etc.
The Assessor’s budget is extremely
limited. From 2008 to 2009 the office went from five to four full time staff due
to County Budget constraints. The balance of the budget is limited to mailing,
training & supplies.