Tax Protests Well Understood

Dean Coop understands property tax protests.
He has been on both sides — assessing property for counties and defending property when he thought the new rate was unfair.
Coop retired from the Tulsa County Assessors office Dec. 31, 2006. He was honored with a reception on Jan. 5, as he ends a 45-year career.
He is looking forward to spending time working with racing thoroughbred horses. His wife Dinah also is involved in the horse business and has her own show horses.
Working with horses is something they both enjoy, although Coop thinks they both might be a ‘‘bit crazy’’ for their efforts.
A native of Portis, Kan., Coop got his start in the assessment industry in 1962 when he went to work for Cole, Layer and Trumble, a company that contracted with counties to do mass appraisals to update assessments.
The firm was located in Dayton, Ohio, but worked in several states, including Kansas.
‘‘I was just out of the Army and needed a job,’’ Coop said. ‘‘I went to an employment office in Wichita. Cole, Layer and Trumble were working in Sedgwick County and I applied for a job.
‘‘If someone had told me at that time that I would be assessing properties the rest of my life, I would have said they were crazy,’’ he continued.
Coop quickly found he was not popular when he was doing his job.
Property assessments in Kansas were woefully out of date and people protested at the increases.
He learned to defend his assessments and make adjustments when it was shown the numbers were wrong.
But working for the Ohio firm, Coop didn’t have to face the upset residents. They would do their job and leave town.
That changed in 1967 when he went to work for the Harvey County, Kan. Assessor’s office. It was at that time that Coop learned how to work with taxpayers and understand their situations. He also lived in the county and they became his neighbors.
One day, in 1969, Coop got a call from Texaco to work in the company property department. That changed his perspective again as he now was defending the company’s property tax rates against higher taxes.
While his office was in Chicago, he worked in five different states.
The Texaco job ‘‘came out of the blue,’’ Coop added. Just three years later he got a call from Williams in Tulsa, again, ‘‘out of the blue.’’
Glad to get out of Chicago, Coop admits today that he known about the difference in the cities, would have ‘‘taken a pay cut instead of a raise’’ to move to Tulsa. ‘‘I probably told them that, but I also took the pay raise.’’
During his job in private industry, Coop made certain his protests to county officials were valid.
‘‘I always was honest and answered questions any assessor asked,’’ he said. ‘‘I never lied.’’
Word quickly gets around among assessors about people with unfounded protests or those who lie to authorities, he said.
Returning to government work after retiring from WilTel, Coop found the Tulsa County Assessor’s staff to be a hard working group.
He worked under Cheryl Clay and Jack Gordon and Ken Yazel, the current assessor.
‘‘I can’t say enough about these people,’’ he said. ‘‘They are good people who have to do a difficult job dealing with the public.
‘‘I will have plenty to do in retirement,’’ Coop said. ‘‘I am just wondering if I will have enough time.’’

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