Assessor’s office seeks help from the state
EAGLE COUNTY ” With two key people out and an election campaign in full swing, Joyce Mack asked for a status report. The news is apparently pretty good.
Earlier this month, Mack, the Eagle County assessor, wrote to the Colorado Division of Taxation, asking the state to check on the progress of a couple of projects with deadlines coming at the end of August. She also asked for help, if needed, to help meet those deadlines.
John Pippenger from the division’s Grand Junction office spent Thursday and Friday of last week in Eagle. The initial reports are encouraging.
“He talked to the staff and felt they were on track to meet the deadlines,” said Pam Godfrey, manager of administrative resources for the Division of Taxation. “The work is getting done.”
Whether or not the work was getting done worried Mack enough to ask for help. She declined to be interviewed for this story, but in a letter to the state, she wrote about those worries.
“I am concerned that my employees may be focusing their energies on election issues rather than the immediate statutory deadlines at hand,” Mack’s letter states.
One of those employees, Ed Smith, is challenging Mack for the Republican candidate’s spot on the November ballot. The primary election is Aug. 8.
Besides the looming primary election, Mack has recently lost two of her key deputies. Deputy Assessor Mark Hiss is on paid leave for training. Mary Kessler, the administrative manager in the office, is on personal leave.
The reason for that leave is secret under the terms of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which tightly limits what information can be released by doctors, hospitals and employers.
It’s not unusual for county assessors to ask for help, Godfrey said.
“Aid and support to counties is a primary function of our department,” Godfrey said. “That can be education, phone help, or on-site help. It’s very common.”
Godfrey also said that visits like Pippenger’s, to check the status of various projects, are also common with the state agency.
“For newer assessors, that’s fine to do,” Garfield County Assessor Shannon Hurst said. “There’s a ton of stuff to learn with all the deadlines and requirements.”
Hurst, now in her second term as Garfield County Assessor, has spent 22 years total in the office. She said she or her former bosses have never had to ask for help from the state. But, she added, “They’re there to help.”
More help from the state may be on the way before the end of August.
“We may need to send one person out for three days, maximum,” Godfrey said. “It’s not a big deal.”
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado