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Handling the next round

With the assessor’s office serving as an engine generating revenue for the city, it would be a good idea to ensure, without a doubt, that the office is ready to handle this next round of assessments. Doing anything less will only result in another nightmare fiasco centering on a city that needs additional revenue and shedding of an implausible assessment process.

According to Sid Daughtrey, interim city assessor for Suffolk, 74 percent of property assessment appeals filed this year were lowered. He explained this figure at Wednesday’s council meeting by saying that of the approximately 523 appeals received by the assessor’s office, 387 saw a decrease in their assessment.

If that isn’t evidence that this year’s assessments went awry, then it’s hard to fathom what would be.

Perhaps council believes that firing the responsible department head will ultimately fix the problem. We believe that much more thought and planning needs to be invested to avoid encountering another debacle.

City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn added staffing in the assessor’s office in this year’s budget, but Daughtrey quickly admitted that there is practically the same amount of staff to handle the assessments this year. He went on to tell council members that with the same staffing, the department plans to tackle this coming assessment process using different methods – including using more comparisons between subdivisions than previously.

That may well be a good idea. But if the city wants an improved and more credible assessment process, then its leaders should consider investing more into the assessor’s office. Whatever is done needs to be made public prior to the actual assessment so all parties – taxpayers included – understand the process. Everyone knows that an engine won’t run well without oil.