Assessor: Dan Ross

The job of county assessor is to fairly and efficiently assign values to residential and commercial properties so that taxes can be collected.

The assessor makes no policy and enacts no laws — in fact, the Oregon Department of Revenue sets the rules for assessing property. So how are voters to decide between two candidates who both want the job?

Incumbent Jackson County Assessor Dan Ross has been doing the job since 1989. This year, Roy Wright, a property appraiser for decades himself, wants to replace Ross.

Both men are competent, reasonable people with a great deal of experience appraising property. We see no compelling reason to remove Ross, and recommend that voters re-elect him.

Wright, 67, worked in the assessor's office in the 1970s — in fact, Ross took over Wright's job when Wright left the office to go into business for himself.

Wright, who is well-known for the monthly real estate sales reports that he makes available to the media, says he can do a better job of running the office. He says Ross and his staff have been unresponsive to property owners who challenged the valuations of their properties, and are too far behind on reappraising properties around the county.

Ross, 57, maintains that his office relies on the county Board of Property Tax Appeals to resolve disputes, and frequently recommends that property owners appeal their cases to the board.

Ross acknowledges his office is not up to date on reappraisals, but notes that the office was understaffed for several years because of county budget problems. Two years ago, state and county auditors recommended increasing the staff, and Ross hired four new appraisers who are helping with the backlog.

The reality is that the old system of reappraising all properties in the county every six years was abolished by the voters through Ballot Measure 50, which imposed a new formula for setting assessed values. Reappraisals are still performed, but are less crucial than in the past because changes in market value don't directly affect the assessed value, which is typically less than half the market value.

Ross has been instrumental in developing a new computer system in partnership with other counties in the state. He speaks highly of his staff, which he says is the best he's ever had.

Ross also says he wants to continue serving because he loves the job. We see no reason to remove him from it.

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