Summit County Democrats select new assessor following resignation
Stephanie Larsen wants to bring a fresh perspective to the Summit County Assessor’s Office.
Pending a final thumbs up from the Summit County Council, she’ll have her chance. Delegates from the Summit County Democratic Party on Saturday nominated Larsen to replace Steve Martin, who resigned his post as county assessor last month. If approved by the County Council May 22, she will finish Martin’s six-year term, which runs through 2020. Three other candidates were vying for the job.
Larsen, a Henefer resident, has nearly two decades of experience. After serving as Morgan County’s deputy assessor for 15 years, she has spent the last four years working under Martin as an appraiser in Summit County.
She said she decided to run for the vacated post because she identified areas of the office’s operations that can be improved. The assessor determines the value of homes, commercial properties and land within the county for tax purposes.
“I’d like us to be a little more progressive,” she said, citing what she described as the office’s drawn-out transition to becoming paperless as one example. “… I like progressive, forward-thinking attitudes in doing the work.”
One of the first initiatives Larsen plans to pursue is creating redundancy in job duties within the department. She said she wants to avoid asking a residents to come back in at another time because the person who performs the needed functions is out of the office.
“I would like to take a two-deep to three-deep mandatory on every function in the office so that no matter what kind of turnover we may have, vacations or people quitting and doing other things, we have that continuity,” she said.
Larsen also intends to implement auditing and quality control processes in tracking new growth and permits, as well as land guidelines to ensure appraisers are keeping up with increases in land values. Additionally, she wants to address discrepancies in valuations in certain areas of the county.
“I think we have some low areas and we just need to become equitable throughout the county,” she said.
Among the three other candidates who sought the position was Travis Lewis, who served as the deputy assessor under Martin and is currently the interim department head. She said Lewis also has an in-depth knowledge of property valuation and the inner workings of the department but that, in her view, her experience working in Morgan County gives her an outsider’s perspective that will be critical in reshaping the office.
“Sometimes, when we’ve always done what we’ve always done, we just continue to do that,” she said. “And I wondered if (Lewis) went unchallenged, would we just continue on for another however many years doing those same processes. I really thought I could give a boost to changing some of those things.”
Martin, 71, announced his resignation in April, citing a desire to travel and spend more time with his family. He also indicated it was time for someone better able to adapt to changing technology to helm the office.
Since Martin is a Democrat, the Summit County Democratic Party had the responsibility of choosing a successor and forwarding the selection to the County Council for final approval.
The county assessor position will be on the ballot in 2020. Larsen said she plans to mount a campaign for a full term.
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