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Our opinion: We’re overdue for a reassessment

Several large corporations, including Walmart and Northwest, are currently in the process of settling appeals to their property assessment.

The end result is that those entities will pay less.

On our Facebook page, there were several comments to the effect of “Why can’t the citizens get a tax break like this?” To some degree, they can.

But it’s a political can that elected officials have been kicking down the road in this county for decades: Reassessment.

The county’s assessment is one of the oldest in the state. That has opened the door for all of the corporate challenges we’ve seen in recent years — Lowe’s, Hampton Inn, Walmart, Northwest and the list could go on and on.

Those entities have the resources to be able to challenge their assessment, tie it up in a lengthy legal proceeding and, in all of the above mentioned cases, settle.

Most citizens simply don’t have the ability to do that. It’s costly. And the juice wouldn’t be worth the squeeze on the assessed value of a single family residence.

But for a giant retail space or a large company? The savings from a lowered assessment can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are two major downstream effects of these corporate appeals.

First, local, county and school governments have less money to work with and face the real prospect of having to raise taxes.

Second, and more importantly though, the end result is that those of us who own our home and little else wind up paying a larger piece of the pie than we should. Funding for school and critical municipal services still has to come from somewhere. And the “average” taxpayer is left holding the bag for the difference.

We understand that reassessment is unpopular. It’s also expensive. And people don’t really understand it.

Yes, some property owners will pay more. Some will pay less. But everyone will be held to the same standard.

It’s an issue of basic fairness.

The county commissioners are the ones that will ultimately have to undertake a county-wide reassessment.

The current board of commissioners frequently deliberates what the scope of county government actually is, especially when they don’t want to do something. They can’t deny this one.

It’s time that the county commissioners actually accept that responsibility. We’re not optimistic they will.

Why? Because we’ve been waiting for decades.

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