Assessor candidate: Mark Chapin
EAGLE COUNTY ” Mark Chapin has spent most of his career in county government. He wants back in, but this time he’s applying at the ballot box.
Chapin is running for Eagle County Assessor, facing off against Ed Smith, who defeated fellow Republican and current assessor Joyce Mack in the August primary.
Smith is currently the commercial property appraiser in the assessor’s office.
Chapin was the deputy assessor for several years before leaving the office in early 2004.
Since then, Chapin has been a private appraiser, working in Eagle County and throughout the region. He’s busy, and business is good, so why return to the public sector?
“I really think I have a calling for the public side of the business,” Chapin said. “That’s why I was in assessment as long as I was.”
Chapin started his career in LaPlata County, the area around Durango, in 1977. He started in the assessor’s office, working his way up to chief appraiser then deputy assessor before taking a job in Eagle County.
While Chapin said he wanted a change, he didn’t want much of a change in environment.
“I’m most comfortable in the mountains,” he said. At home, he and his partner Susie Kincade live among horses, llamas, and a goat.
When it’s time to work, though, Chapin said he misses working with people, even if some of those people aren’t happy.
There will probably be a good number of unhappy people coming through the office next year, wondering why their home values have gone up so much.
While the assessor’s office doesn’t send out tax bills, it is responsible for setting the value of all residential, commercial and personal property in the county. Those values are the basis of local tax bills.
State law requires counties to re-value property every two years. That process is going on now, and property owners will get notices in May of next year.
“Values had been flat for a few years,” Chapin said. “Property values could go up 30 percent.”
Chapin believes he’s the best person for the job of helping property owners understand what happened to their home values, what that might do to their property taxes, and what their options are.
“When someone comes in, you listen, then explain.” he said. “When a property owner’s right, it’s our job to adjust that value.”
While property values are the most public part of the job, the assessor’s office is also responsible for meeting several state-imposed deadlines every year.
Hitting those deadlines takes a good staff, and good management, Chapin said.
Of course, he believes he’s the right man for that job.
There doesn’t seem to be much job security in the county assessor’s job, though.
Since the early 1990s, voters have picked a new assessor about every four years. That pattern held this year as well. Chapin said he’s learned from all of the assessors he’s worked for over the years.
“I’ve learned a great deal about how to manage effectively from three of the four assessors I’ve worked for,” Chapin said. He doesn’t include Mack in that group. About working with her, he’ll only say “We didn’t see eye to eye.”
While looking forward to a chance to be the top person in the office, Chapin mostly is looking forward to being in a busy office again.
“You spend 90 percent of your time at work with these people,” he said. “It’s like being with a family. There are different personalities and interactions. It’s challenging to work with individuals in that setting and on a daily basis.”
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado
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