The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Appraiser endorses Coons for assessor


October 18, 2018

To The Eagle:

My name is Michael Dahle. I am the Chief Appraiser for Wahkiakum County. In 20 plus years in this profession I’ve never written a letter related to an election, however, this year I feel that I am forced to do so. Following are my informed opinions. Due to space constraints I have left out a lot of details and have tried just to highlight the main points.

First a few negatives (unfortunately) and then some of positives.

1. The assessor’s office is always a lightning rod for criticism. This often originates out of a misunderstanding of the role that the office plays in taxation or the constraints we operate under.

2. Statements have been made by a few individuals attacking the assessor’s office that are inaccurate, misleading and/or ill-informed. Some of these individuals are known to have personal vendettas or axes to grind.

3. Brian McClain has, in my opinion, exhibited a lack of integrity, honesty and accuracy. He has made claims designed to lead the voter into thinking that he has “appraisal” related experience. Setting prices for items for an auction has absolutely no correlation to the principles and practices utilized in appraising property for tax purposes.

4. Other statements that he has made would seem to indicate either a lack of accuracy (not knowing the facts) or a lack of honesty and integrity (making misleading statements for political gain).

5. I listened to Brian McClain’s statements and answers at the last forum. In my opinion he lacks basic understanding of the assessment work and/or is deliberately misleading the voters.

6. Brian McClain states that you don’t need to worry about his lack of experience because I, Mr. Dahle, will take care of everything. This is not yet a country of servitude. Mr. McClain can not guarantee my “services” to the taxpayers of this county.

7. In addition, if he were to win and if I were to choose to stay (which is not a given) there is no way that I could do all of the work that I do while also having to cover the many areas that the assessor, Bill Coons, currently covers. Some of the areas that Mr. Coons currently covers are tax code area administration, levy calculations, tax role certification, special programs such as Open Space and Designated Forest Lands, property segregations and subdivisions, legal description interpretations, compensating taxes, CAMA administration and assisting with the appraisal work.

8. Mr. McClain states that, Bill Coons has opened “our county up to possible litigation.” I believe that this fear tactic is based on an incorrect understanding of the law and that Bill Coons has not opened the county up to possible litigation by carrying out the duties of the office to which he was elected.

9. Brian McClain states that through a “training course and by working with our local real estate agents” he will have the skills to do the job. First, course work will only give a surface knowledge of principles. It will not give you the knowledge needed to generate the assessed values. Second, I would suggest that you ask the local real estate agents if they are willing to help the assessor fulfill his duties and whether that would potentially be a conflict of interest.

Now some positives.

10. We at the assessor’s office are available to answer questions.

11. The laws, rules, principles and standards direct how we fulfill our duty. We are happy to explain them.

12. Bill Coons, as your assessor, has worked hard to improve the assessment process.

13. I would see Bill Coons as the one who has exhibited honesty and integrity.

14. While there still is a tremendous amount of work to do, we have made great strides towards getting the office to where it needs to be.

I understand that Bill Coons’s personality sometimes rubs people the wrong way, however, if you don’t get in his face he won’t get in yours. Bill Coons is very willing to answer questions and provides great assistance to many people who come into our office for assistance. He has knowledge and experience that are critical to the operation of the assessor’s office, he cares about the county and the taxpayers, he strives to assure that we produce fair and equitable assessed values and he has worked hard to move the office in positive directions.

I have a front row seat, a view from the inside. I know the significant challenges still ahead for this county in putting together a viable, sustainable, assessment system. I also know the potential costly and devastating impact to the county if the assessment system falls apart.

My recommendation is that you re-elect Bill Coons as your assessor.

Michael Dahle



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