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BCTA Prez Ristinen calls state report a 'whitewash'

An article in the Detroit Lakes Tribune headlined "No More Investigations" refers to the Becker County Taxpayers Association and officers.

The Department of Revenue report signed by Gordon Folkman, director do the Property Tax Division, was taken out of context by the reporter who also writes "it will no longer deal with either of them."

Can any citizen believe that any state agency can openly defy Minnesota Statutes section 273.0645, which requires the commissioner of revenue to review local assessment practices when petitioned by 10 percent of registered voters in a jurisdiction?

In this instance, the petition contained 40 township residents concerned with alleged field card manipulation of the county assessor's cousin's property.

The state report fails to address the tax issues of manipulated structural factors. The report is a full "whitewash" of assessor conduct. The 44-page report is full of distortions of fact, including spanning four appointed assessors. It is two!

Assessment issues with assessor Rodney Salmen have been brought by many taxpayers to the Taxpayers Association, an activist group striving to help aggrieved taxpayers. President Ristinen has been a licensed assessor in Runeberg and Holmesville townships. He is retired from the IRS with a tax background.

The problem, as we see it, is that the "fox is guarding the hen house." It is an unusual case of a small, select agency investigating its own assessment issues brought by taxpayers. -- Les Ristinen, rural Osage

(Ristinen is president of the Becker County Taxpayers Association)