Open House at Dept. of Assessments

You’re invited to a Department of Assessments Open House Thursday Nov. 17 from 3-6pm at 500 4th Avenue. (Our offices are on the 7th floor – click the link for parking and other info).

Our doors are always open, but we’re opening even wider to show off our new office space, our progress toward a new way of doing business, and our 2011 IAAO award.

Lloyd, Don Saxby, and IAAO Pres. Woodzell with 2011 Distinguished Jurisdiction Award

Lloyd and Don Saxby (right) accept 2011 Distinguished Jurisdiction Award from IAAO Pres. Bruce Woodzell

The office just finished a major move.  Consolidating two floors into one saves the taxpayer over $200,000 annually. We’re not “paperless” yet, but we did put an impressive collection of filing cabinets out to pasture.

Come see us! We’ll be happy to explain how we map and value property, process appeals and exemptions, and so on.

We’re proud to demonstrate the advances we’ve made in customer service, GIS technology, and mobile devices for field appraisers.

We’ll assist visitors, hands-on, in applying for exemptions and looking up individual property descriptions and histories.

And where history is concerned, the office is a treasure trove. The Assessor captures photos of nearly every home and building in King County, each in its original condition and background. We’ll display some gems from way, way back.

Previous open house events have produced very positive feedback. My staff and I are looking forward to seeing you next Thursday, sharing our story, listening to your concerns, and taking your questions.

Harbor Party reminder, and a feather in our cap

Lloyd’s 2011 Harbor Party is only two weeks away.  By mail or email, phone or facebook, it’s time to forward your confirmations, regrets, and/or $$$ contributions in lieu of attendance. This will be your last reminder until about 24 hours before party time (5-7:30pm, Wednesday, Oct. 26).

In other exciting news, the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) honored your King County Department of Assessments with the Distinguished Assessing Jurisdiction award at this fall’s 77th Annual Conference on Assessment Administration in Phoenix AZ. (Reykjavik Iceland got one, too.)

Our award was for innovative use of technology to map and locate properties to be assessed for local tax rolls — part of Lloyd’s ongoing commitment to modernization. County Executive Dow Constantine enthused:

This is another example of how, working together as One King County, smart management practices and the innovative use of new technology can improve how we do our jobs. I’m pleased that others are recognizing the reforms being made here, and I congratulate the Assessor on this honor.

Lloyd discussed this and other local property tax topics on the Real Estate Radio Network’s Tina and Drew Show. To hear this interview, visit their “Shows” page and scroll down to the audio widget under “OCTOBER 1ST SHOW”.

Join us at China Harbor later this month, and you can hear all about it straight from the horse’s mouth!

Eastside Fundraiser June 6

Our downtown fundraiser May 23 was a smash!  The next one might be a shorter hop for our supporters on the other side of the bridge:

[Image: Invitation to June 6 Eastside fundraiser]

Please join
King County Assessor Lloyd Hara
for a reelection campaign fundraiser

Monday, June 6, 5:30 – 6:30pm
at
The Grape Choice
9 Lake Shore Plaza, Kirkland WA 98033

Suggested donation: $50 – $150 – $250

RSVP to McKenna@McKennaHartman.com
(206) 971-6730

Countdown: 31 days to filing deadline

Most folks have no idea I’m running. All the others want to know “Who else is running?”.

You can help answer that question with your support TODAY and over 31 crucial days from now to June 10 — the end of Filing Week for 2011’s Nov. 8 general election. With your help right now – and a little luck – I won’t have to ask again for another 4 years!

In troubled times like these, a low turn-out off-year election can fire the political ambitions of eccentrics and opportunists.

We’ll be ready for anything — but we must show a strong hand before Filing to make challengers think twice about even starting the race.

Here’s a run-down on the groundwork we’ve laid for a resounding victory in this year’s election.

Continue reading

Briefing the Council on Service Excellence

Last month I was the opening speaker on a “Service Excellence” briefing — a key element of the five year strategic plan our County Council adopted last year.

This Plan (“Working Together for One King County”) and its goals apply equally to the Executive departments and to agencies headed by separately elected officials — Sheriff, Elections Director, Prosecutor and your hard-working Assessor.

My team sets the pace when it comes to Service Excellence. Customer service is central to the new way of doing business we are bringing to the Dept. of Assessments.

My presentation runs from 00:09:20 to 00:20:45 in the hour-long session video. Here are a few nuggets:

  • Our revamped public website attracts over 3 million hits a month.
  • In 16 months in office, I delivered over 200 educational presentations to community groups of all kinds.
  • We aim to return phone calls within one business day. (The county-wide standard is 72 hours.)

Council Members were very complimentary in their comments — as were other panelists later in the program.

I also want to compliment you on the tremendous outreach you’ve done … and the changes that are going on there to be more efficient and more timely and more helpful.

– Council Member Larry Phillips

 I just want to commend you … getting around to 39 cities is NOT easy, and over 200 presentations is astounding.

– Council Member Reagan Dunn

 The idea of actually having a human being on the telephone is SO EXCITING! … It helps people to really understand that this is their government.

– Council Member Kathy Lambert

My first year and a half in office has flown by, with much accomplished and much yet to do. Looking forward to re-election this year, with Filing Day only weeks away.

Straight Talk at Tax Time

Property tax bills hit the street this week. This year, most of us owe higher taxes on homes assessed at lower values.

Typical reactions run the gamut from “Why are my taxes so HIGH?” to “Why are MY taxes so high?”.

You can ease the minds of friends who fear the whole system is off-kilter . . . and those who feel singled out for more than their fair share. When the tax topic comes up, focus on two fundamental ideas.

1. When we vote for more taxes, taxes go up.

This one is common sense, but easily overlooked. People complain “My taxes went up again. This can’t be right!” . . . but most of them voted for EMT’s, schools and parks.

The people directly approved most of the bumps in 2011 taxes. (See the Seattle Times and Issaquah Press for a sampling of recent coverage.) In fact, about half of the property taxes you and I pay are voter-approved.

2. When home prices fall, taxes don’t follow suit.

This one is harder to grasp – and explain. “My home lost value, but my taxes are as high as ever. This can’t be right!”

When people buy less, sales tax revenues fall. When companies do less business, B&O revenue drops. What makes property tax any different gives?

Property taxes in Washington are budget based. Elected officials in cities, counties, schools, ports, and special districts decide how much money to raise. Your share of the budgeted tax levy depends on your share of the total property being taxed.

When your neighbor’s house loses market value along with your own, the result is a wash – and your tax bills are going to look a lot like last year’s.

Still puzzled? At Stevens County, Assessor Al Taylor presents a popular illustration of this system in simple, accessible form. Details vary from county to county and year to year, but the same concept applies.

You can do the community a great service by sharing this straight talk with your many friends and associates. Through our 2,000-odd readers, we could reach a major share of King County taxpayers.

Thank You and Best Regards,

Lloyd

Yardsign Round-up

We could use your help. Many of our yardsigns are still out, and while we’re hurrying to collect them, it’s tough to get to them all. If you see any, please pick them up and let us know by writing citizensforhara@comcast.net. We’ll be happy to come and collect them from you.

Thanks so much for your support.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.