|An Examination of Vertical Equity Over
Two Reassessment Cycles
Author: Earl D. Benson and Arthur L. Schwartz, Jr.
Start Page: 255
Abstract: This article examines
vertical equity in the assessment of single-family homes over two assessment cycles in
Bellingham, Washington. The two assessment periods, which are four years apart, followed
two differing property appreciation periods. The 1992 reassessment followed an explosion
in home values, while the 1996 reassessment came after more moderate price appreciation.
The assessed value/ market value ratio is the basic tool of this study with actual sales
prices assumed to be market value. Utilizing a database of 721 home sales from January,
1990 to December, 1992, this studys empirical analysis suggests regressive vertical
inequity in 1992. This situation appears to have changed in 1996. Results from a second
database consisting of 835 home sales from January, 1994 through December, 1996, suggest a
substantial reduction in vertical inequity. Overall, it appears that the County
Assessors office addressed the previous problem with positive results for the
average property taxpayer of Whatcom County.