Letters to the Editor

Assessor has history of mismanagement | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Island County must elect people who are experienced in the field in which they are elected to serve. We need candidates who are willing to engage department staff in tough discussion to improve job performance, reduce mistakes and ensure adherence to laws.

We deserve elected officials who take responsibility for mistakes not blame bad software or understaffing. We demand representatives in government who are committed to spending our tax dollars wisely, shrinking budgets, and cutting back like the rest of us.

Your candidate, Dave Mattens, relies heavily on a bloated management staff. Three managers/supervisors for a staff of 17 is wasteful, unnecessary and unsustainable. Were he experienced in his field he could cut a middle management position and save taxpayers considerably.

Mary Engle has the experience to lead the assessor's office, manage it effectively and ensure accuracy in assessments and will do it with a smaller budget.

You reported that Mattens is supported by current office staff as if this was a plus. In light of the mistakes that have come from his office in the last year, the incredible discrepancies and inconsistencies in appraisals from one neighborhood to the next, and rude, unprofessional behavior displayed by some of Mattens' supporters on the staff, it is no wonder he has support from amongst the ranks of his staff. They are free to operate as they choose. There are no consequences for poor performance, no follow through on management directives, no accountability, standards, policies or guidelines.

Even the Washington state auditor stated in his September 2010 audit of Mr. Mattens' office that "he failed to have adequate policies or procedures in place to ensure accurate and timely assessments." In short, the Washington state auditor says he has failed to perform his duties as county assessor.

In your endorsement you are advocating leaving the fox to guard the henhouse. This type of lack of accountability within government over recent years is largely what has gotten our country and our economy in the position we are in today and it must end.

Island County voters have a choice to make in the assessor's race this year. They can vote for Mattens; an avid supporter of Proposition 1 who relies heavily on management to compensate for his lack of knowledge and experience or Mary Engle, a 16-year veteran of the office who knows the job, knows the law, and knows what guidelines, policies, and procedures must be in place to ensure accurate and timely assessments.

We can choose between a man who knowingly violated state law to appease a complaining taxpayer, therein unfairly spreading an additional tax burden over the rest of us, or we can elect Mary Engle, a candidate who prioritizes fairness in assessments, adherence to the law and respect for all taxpayers, not just her friends.

At a recent forum both candidates were asked "What is the one thing in the office they would change if elected/re-elected." Their answers clearly demonstrate their core principles and what their priorities will be when they walk in the office on Jan. 2.

Mary Engle stated that she would correct the inaccuracies, mistakes and inconsistencies in the assessments to ensure that each taxpayer is paying their fair share and no more.

Dave Mattens gave a strikingly different answer by saying he would increase the office staff and hire a front desk person.

I cannot speak for all of Island County taxpayers, but I know one thing for sure. I want an assessor who is committed to consistency, accuracy, fairness and respect for taxpayers over anything else. That person is Mary Wilson Engle and she is the one that deserves the next four years at the helm of the Island County assessor's office. Island County cannot afford another four years of mismanagement and mistakes.

Jason K. Joiner


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