Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify information stated by Hill regarding public accessibility to the Pettis County Assessor.
There’s a large race for Pettis County Assessor and it will be decided in the Aug. 2 primary election, as all five candidates are Republican.
Christopher C. Woolery, of Sedalia, Karen Hill, of Smithton, Mark A. Thomas, of Sedalia, Angie Luebbering, of Sedalia, and Susan Young Yelton, of Sedalia, have all filed for the position of assessor.
Hill previously worked in the Pettis County Assessor’s Office for four years before working for the State Tax Commission, which is the regulatory agency for the assessor’s office. She said she helped train assessors and worked on their budgets.
Hill said she decided to run for assessor because she’s qualified for the position and because she thinks “the citizens of Pettis County deserve knowledge in the assessment field.” This is her second time running for the office after running against current Assessor Karissa Logan in the last election.
She said two top issues she sees facing the county related to the assessor’s office are keeping an eye on legislative decisions that could affect the office’s budget, and conducting “uniform” assessments.
“I’ve been informed that in certain neighborhoods, the exact same house is valued $9,000 different than the one sitting next to it and I don’t see that as a fair assessment if it’s the same house, same year built, same condition. I don’t see why there should be any difference,” Hill said.
Hill said she sees the main responsibilities of the assessor as conducting fair assessments for its citizens and accessibility to the public, noting that citizens should feel comfortable and able to reach the assessor to express concerns about their assessment.
“Assessors aren’t allowed to enter property, so if a resident feels his assessment is too high, he needs to come to the assessor and say, ‘hey my basement floods three times a year,” which is going to cause a difference,” Hill explained of the need for public accessibility to the assessor.
She stated one goal for office if elected, which was reviewing commercial assessments.
“I would start with commercial assessments because I know they are outsourced to an out-of-state company and in my current position (as Smithton City Clerk) I am fully aware that commercial properties in my area have not had new construction picked up for four years, which in small communities they may only have one industry and it’s their main source of revenue, so if those small, rural communities are not getting their commercial assessments updated, then those communities are losing,” she said.
Hill also discussed how she would make sure the assessor’s office doesn’t exceed its budget each year.
“I would stay with the legislative-required funds in the assessor’s office and if that meant not outsourcing commercial assessments, I think I would educate the employees within the office to handle that situation,” she said. “I think that would save funds. I don’t think the assessor’s office needs three websites, so one of those could be eliminated.”
She said the biggest challenge in fulfilling the office would be educating the public on the assessment process, noting that the assessor needs to get the word out about the different options available to citizens.
“I have more knowledge of the office than any of the other candidates,” she said of why citizens should vote for her. a”Working for the State Tax Commission as I did, I know the state statutes that are required for the assessment office. … I think I have a lot of insight because I worked at the state level that other candidates don’t have.”