To all Taxpayers,
The Assessor’s Office will have vacancies for the three Property Assessor 1 positions as well as a vacant Valuation Coordinator III position by the end of December 2021.
With four vacancies in a one-year cycle and not having a full staff, we are going to be left with only two employees. It will be very difficult to maintain office operations without any disruptions.
Remember, this is not my first rodeo. I took office in 2017 with just three employees when the county was also in a financial crisis. We find ourselves in that same position once again.
The office is already facing several obstacles, as many of you know. We have no funds to budget the basic number of staff to properly function as all other counties do. We continue to try and provide the best possible services despite the limited workforce in place. This will drastically change as we lose more employees. We have an urgent matter with our IT Department regarding the operation of our Tyler computer software. Should this matter not get resolved immediately, we could find ourselves not able to perform our statutory duties.
We’re stepping into uncharted territory and could possibly put the county at risk, both financially and legally.
Our department has been approved to employ eight positions by the Board of Supervisors. However, the county, for the last five years, never seems to have the money to budget for all eight positions, or at the very least, pay our current employees a fair wage to keep them from leaving the county to make more money elsewhere. We have become a revolving door for training at the taxpayers’ expense.
This department is supposed to have a workforce of eight employees, which is crucial to the success of the department to operate county business. All county departments should have the ability to operate at full staff to avoid repetitive turnover that can bring risk to the county. The breakdown of any one department can expose the county to unforeseen problems.
The Mobile Home/RV Park Study for personal property won’t get completed this term. We will miss the statutory window without enough staff. We will have to choose audits and projects we must abandon, yet again. It’s looking as if we will have to delay the agriculture audit and the personal property audit for wells on farmlands. These projects were supposed to be done last term. We were hoping to at least start them this term, but, unfortunately, that is not going to be possible, again.
I believe the situation playing out will have a disruptive domino effect, starting with our office and bleeding into the county, potentially affecting the continuity of many county operations.
The Assessor’s Office has not had a sufficient workforce in place since 2016. It is extremely necessary for the staff to have backup personnel so as not to disturb the operations when a staff shift occurs.
We will be operating at less than 50 percent of the workforce needed to meet our statutory obligations, as well as servicing our taxpayers efficiently and in a timely manner.
We hope we will still get some qualified applications who will want to work for La Paz County, even with all the financial uncertainties facing it. It takes 16 months to get an Appraiser certified by the Department of Revenue and at least three years to learn the fundamentals of crucial assessment work in our Tyler Software System, let alone trying to train four brand new employees at the same time.
One of the employees resigning will be leaving our office to make $45,000 in the field of appraising, $15,000 more than they are making working in my office right now. Unfortunately, you can make more money flipping burgers than what can be made here in the county.
We, the taxpayers, pay for the training. The Assessor’s Office trains the employee, they leave to make wage elsewhere, and the chaos starts all over again. Never having the opportunity to work with a fully trained staff and offering the best service to our taxpayers, is a shame.
Currently, the county is without five department directors: Finance, Elections, Community Development, Parks and now Human Resources. Just about every department is working with a skeleton crew. Many employees have told me they are continuing to look for employment opportunities outside the county.
What is the definition of insanity? Look at our county and it becomes very clear, I am sorry to say. Taxpayers and county employees continue to pay for the continued dysfunction of our county.
This is an ongoing frustration within most county departments- a problem that never seems to get resolved.
The county still does not have a GIS department. We contract with a consultant that most county departments have limited access to for their office needs. If the county had a GIS department, it would enhance all office functions, as it does in all the other fourteen counties in Arizona.
Our county departments have not had the opportunity to forecast, budget or implement their department needs. If allowed, it would better serve the county as a whole.
Our office receives many calls from taxpayers and developers complaining that they can’t use the current GIS. They question why the Assessor’s Office is unable to provide data being requested and processed like all the other counties in Arizona. This is quite embarrassing. Because there is not a working GIS department, the Assessor’s system software can’t integrate with GIS like it should. This inability to integrate creates disparities in assessments.
It’s important for me to always be transparent by informing everyone about the current state of this office, as I always have and always will. I am also not shy when it comes to sharing my opinion on where I feel the county stands. I do this by listening to the concerns of our taxpayers and voicing them on their behalf. Let’s not forget that some county employees are also taxpayers.
La Paz County Assessor