A bill that addressed the possibility of retention elections for city and county assessors was amended in committee on Tuesday. The amendment says the county and city assessors shall use a state appraisal manual in assessing and valuing all classes of property in the state.
Failure to comply with the manual would result in a letter of admonishment and warning issued by the Department of Revenue to the assessor on first offense. A second violation within three years would make an assessor ineligible for reappointment.
For a second violation occurring later than three years after appointment or the effective date of this Act, a letter of admonishment and warning as described previously with a first offense. A third violation results in not being eligible for reappointment.
“We took a bill that was pretty draconian and made it much more civilized and pinpointed in what we need to accomplish for accountability,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Edler.
Democrat Sen. Herman Quirmbach said the amendment goes a long way toward addressing some of the concerns.
“I have to say, I don’t think it goes quite far enough though,” Quirmbach said.
Quirmbach pointed out an assessor could be ineligible for reappointment in one country, and be hired in a neighboring county.
“My belief is hiring and firing authority remains and ought to remain with the conference board,” Quirmbach said. “We call that local control. An assessor’s job inevitably is going to involve some judgement calls and an assessor can make an honest judgement and you can find somebody on a higher level who disagrees with that judgement. I don’t think it’s fair to cost someone their job, their livelihood, their career for making judgement calls.”
Edler said the bill provides local control by allowing them an opportunity to show reprimand. Should the situation arise to the level of the Department of Revenue, he said it’s likely an egregious act.
“I see this as a secondary accountability mechanism,” Edler said. “I don’t think this goes too far — I think it’s about right.”
Republican Sen. Tom Greene joined Democrats Jackie Smith, Nate Boulton and Quirmbach in voting against the bill.
Boulton voted for the amendment, which was the bill, but voted against the bill.