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Observing the Observer

As one who has often enjoyed the musings of the Settlement Observer, I must respond to his July 15 column regarding increased tax assessments. As the Observer has chosen to spotlight one individual as the responsible party for the recent round of tax assessments, this taxpayer feels the need to point out some misrepresentations that appear to have been overlooked or under-researched.

First, I would like to commend the Observer as having one of the most (if not the most) intelligently written columns it has been my pleasure to read. Your subtleties and nuances of implication have delighted not only my sense of whimsy, but my belief that sarcasm is an art form. Surely being protected by the cloak of anonymity helps in the penning of these columns, though it seems at cross-purposes to use this anonymity as a weapon. Should the accused not be allowed to face his accuser? It is understood that the Journal offered anonymity with the understanding there would be no personal attacks. However, the business at hand is to reconnect with the Observer’s understanding of how government works.

You do not believe that a personal attack on the Assessor is a solution to the problem. Surely the Observer understands that edicts such as the increase in assessments come from the state level, not locally. Further, were funds to the Assessor’s office cut by the state, needed funds would be taken from other county services to replenish the office. It is not a case of “us or him” as was implied. We lose it here, or we lose it there, as told us again by state government, not the Assessor’s office.

As for these new tax valuations, it is agreed that no one wants to increase the amount of money leaving their pocket. However, it should be mentioned that there were meetings held to appeal tax valuations, and while many were understandably disgruntled at the large increase in their tax valuation, it should also be noted that when asked if they would accept the valuation figure as a price at which they might sell their property, most answered with a resounding “No!” While they considered the valuation high, they did not want to sell that low.

A democracy means we have the right to voice our opinions and to work to better the situation of the many. However, to lay all this on the shoulders of one man is an oversight not expected from one with the Observer’s previously witnessed sense of awareness. It distracts the many from the real problem and re-focuses them on a personal vendetta. Surely this was not the Observer’s intent.

Roni Van Fossen


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