If you’re a home/property owner but haven’t looked your property up online lately – you might be surprised at some of the changes to the website overseen by the office of King County Assessor Lloyd Hara. That’s one of the things he brought up when he spoke to the Kiwanis Club of West Seattle during its breakfast meeting on Wednesday at Be’s Restaurant in The Junction.
When he took office after being elected in 2009, Hara said, he was the “fourth guy to hold the job in seven months.” He had two objectives – make the office more customer-friendly, and create more-efficient ways to get the job done. To tackle those tasks, he started by figuring out how to ensure people who called the Assessor’s Office could reach a live human rather than getting “lost in phone-mail hell,” which he said happened to him once. They still have a ways to go, he acknowledged, but his staff is under orders to make a callback within 24 hours to anyone who calls and leaves a message.
Back to the website – Hara says his office has expanded the amount of information it offers, such as a list of taxes paid on a given parcel over the past 10 years. As the online information expands, he said, the postcards sent in the mail with information each year will shrink, and that’ll save money.
Speaking of money – valuations are going up this year, he said, compared to last year, but the commercial real-estate market remains weak, so much of the tax burden remains on homeowners. (Here’s the office’s announcement from February.) Still not much of a condo market, either, he observed, as banks tightened up on home lending.
West Seattle Kiwanis meets three times a month – the schedule’s on their website. Coming up on April 2nd, you’ll find them (and Key Club members) at five local supermarkets in a one-day food drive.