By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Tax time cometh, with abundant data

It’s almost property tax time.

Tuesday, under the direction of Assessor and Tax Collector Derrick Wharff, Yamhill County will mail 46,600 tax statements seeking payment of $151.5 million from county property owners. Half of that money will go to education services, about 32 percent to cities and special districts, and about 18 percent to county government.

Want to know more about that property tax system? Let me count the ways:

First, read this 400-word introduction. Then, on Page A5 of today’s paper, read the half-page with Wharff’s 1,300-word description of 2022-23 property taxes — not that many, considering that state law on “Assessment of Property for Taxation” contains 44,246 words.

Wharff answers some of the most common taxpayer questions, both easy and complex. Like what happens when Real Market Value falls below Maximum Assessed Value; like why some properties experience tax rate “compression;” like how and when you can appeal Real Market Value decisions.

Behind the scenes, Wharff is a county assessor who believes strongly in transparency and public information – so much so that his department recently rolled out a massive online database about all Yamhill County property tax accounts.

That easy-access, user-friendly, highly-detailed database includes an important piece of public information not previously accessible online — the names of property owners. I have a feeling that information will become a much-used feature of the county’s online communication system.

This year’s tax statements will include an informational flyer, and you can learn much more about the tax system from the county website page at

All that said, even Derrick Wharff, transparent as he is, hesitates before diving into conversations about what I call the “black box” of assessing new property for taxation. (The more formal name for that black-box process is “Change Property Ratio.”)

Anyone wanting to join Wharff and very few others on the list of property taxation wonks can look to such pages on his website as “How Measure 50 Changed the Property Tax System.” There you can see this unassuming explanation of the ratio system that sets original assessed values on new properties:

“For new property (for example, newly constructed homes), assessed value is calculated as the market value of the property times the ratio of assessed value to market value of similar existing properties.”

Sounds simple, but like so much in our complex system of property taxation, little-understood. It’s a good thing we have Derrick Wharff to help us keep track of it all.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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