Republicans select county’s assessor Tuesday
Because no other party fielded candidates for the race, results from Tuesday’s Republican primary will leave the winner unopposed.
The assessor’s job, vital to county property-tax calculations, could go to
incumbent Jody Caruthers or to Joyce Mack of Edwards.
The assessor lists and values all property within the county. Taxing entities then use this information to calculate property taxes.
Whoever wins Tuesday will take office in January with a staff of 23 people and about 34,000 taxable properties.
“This job is challenging, and I enjoy the challenge,” says Caruthers, who won the office in 1998 defeating incumbent Allen Black. “I spent part of Monday assessing the damage caused by last week’s fire in Basalt so their taxes are adjusted accordingly.”
Caruthers also served as Eagle County’s assessor for a term in 1987 through 1991.
Mack says she decided to run for the job instead of moving out of the county.
“Instead of complaining about the assessments, I was going to move,” she says. “Instead of moving, I decided to take a step forward and run for the office. I feel our taxes are high for working people and those with fixed incomes.”
Last year, the county assessor’s office processed nearly 5,000 appeals and more than 1,600 hearings before the County Board of Equalizations.
This, Mack says, wasn’t cost-effective for the taxpayers or the county.
“Huge increases in tax-value assessments seriously threaten homeowners and people living on fixed incomes,” she says.
That number of appeals, Caruthers says, was normal during a reappraisal year.
“This year, which is not a reappraisal year, appeals are way down. We have 465 appeals at the assessor level,” she says.
Reappraisals, which are done every two years, follow state statute, Caruthers says. For next year’s reappraisal, the assessor’s office will collect all real estate data for the 18 months prior to June 30, 2002.
“The evaluation and statistical analysis is done by computer, but we analyze every sale out there and feed the information into the computer,” Caruthers explains. “We’re audited by the state and we have passed that audit every year.”
If she gets the job, Mack – who has worked for 12 years with water authorities assessing tap fees for 12 different metropolitan districts, including Arrowhead, Eagle-Vail and Edwards – says she will apply for a state appraiser’s license.
Caruthers says property assessment is far more technical and different from assessing tap fees for a water district.
“My experience in residential and commercial real estate allows me the ability to recognize comparable values,” Mack says.
If she had received an extra six votes at the Republican County Assembly in May – she got 51 of 85 votes – Mack says there wouldn’t been a primary.
“Teamwork and open communication are vital for a successful assessor’s office,” she says. “People are telling me the assessor’s office is not approachable. I will encourage public to interact with the office to get the right information. This also entails cooperation with other county offices and agencies.”
Caruthers, however, says under her leadership the assessor’s office has been recognized for its customer service.
“Anytime a taxpayer has proven the assessor’s office incorrect, the staff has corrected the problem,” she says.
Family: Widow; two daughters, Suzette, 36, and Celeste, 33.
Current job: Eagle County assessor
Experience: Worked in the assessor’s office for 15 years – almost eight in two terms as county assessor.
Platform: Running the assessor’s office with integrity, honesty and no hidden agendas.
Campaign: $2,000 (her own money and personal contributions)
Family: Daughter, Jennifer, 27.
Current job: Chairwoman for Sen. Wayne Allard’s reelection campaign.
Experience: Worked for 17 years in government agencies: five years with the sheriff’s department, 12 years with local water authorities assessing tap fees.
Platform: Accurate, reasonable and fair assessments.
Campaign: $4,000 (personal contributions)