The Crook County Assessor’s Office is an elective office, directly responsible to the voters of Crook County for the administration of the Property Tax. The property tax in Crook County provides funding for twenty districts providing services in including: city and county, parks and recreation, museum, OSU extension, sheriff and police, county schools, COCC and others.
Each district was created by residents of Crook County through a petitioning process and an election. Each district represents an ongoing solution to a problem that was greater than the abilities of individuals to solve. For instance, the City of Prineville was incorporated to provide a solution to roads that were impassable in winter, fires that destroyed entire blocks of homes and businesses, and lawlessness that made streets unsafe. Similar problems afflicted more rural areas of the county and brought about the creation of Crook County and its many services.
A more recent example of citizens creating a district to solve a problem is the Rural Fire Protection District which serves the area surrounding Prineville, Powell Butte and Juniper Canyon. Another example is the Juniper Canyon Water District built in the early 1980’s to control persistent flooding in SE Prineville. Enabling citizens to solve problems such as these is the primary function of the Crook County Assessor’s Office.
The Assessor’s Office is comprised of three elements whose activities produce an annual “Assessment & Tax Roll”. The first element is the Assessor who is responsible to the electorate for the overall administration of the property tax in Crook County. Second is the appraisal staff, comprised of a Chief Appraiser and three property appraisers who establish market value on each of the 16,000 parcels of property in the county. They use modern appraisal techniques and study the real estate market to determine market value. Once determined those values become part of the tax roll. Third, but no less important is the records section comprised of a Chief Deputy and three Deputy Clerks. Their job is to maintain an up-to-date accurate listing of property owners and their addresses; to produce accurate maps of those ownerships; and to assist taxpayers and many others who use those records in their own business or personal affairs.
On or about the end of September the values produced by the appraisal staff and the ownership records produced by the records staff come together to form the Assessment Roll. This is the base for determining each taxpayer’s fair share of the cost of services they receive. The values are then multiplied by the “rates” set in Measure 50 to arrive at the individual tax bills that will fund the districts and their important services.
Although the property tax is often regarded as a necessary “evil” in our society, it is anything but “evil”. It empowers citizens to solve problems collectively that they could not solve for themselves and contributes in a big way to the quality of life we all enjoy in this county. Imagine life without fire protection or police protection; without the opportunity to vote on important matters, with no library or county fair, with streets that limited travel to just certain times of the year and you can appreciate the valuable service of the Crook County Assessor’s Office.