UPDATED: Ford County's chief assessor resigns; meeting postponed

PAXTON — Amid complaints from unhappy taxpayers about the reassessment of their properties in northern Ford County, Supervisor of Assessments Patricia Langland has resigned, effective Monday.

On Tuesday, Langland said that ongoing conflict between her and the Ford County Board led to her decision to step down.

“Just stress with the whole thing,” Langland said. “There was no help in the office, and I wanted different equipment and (the board) refused to do that. It’s just a matter of having what I needed to work with and then (the board) working against me because they wanted everything back to the way it used to be. So I just decided I’m better off not doing it.”

Langland’s resignation was effective the same day that the Ford County Board was scheduled to hold a special meeting to discuss, among other agenda items, Langland’s job. Listed on the meeting’s agenda was “discussion and possible action” regarding the supervisor of assessments’ position.

The meeting, however, was canceled Monday afternoon after the Ford County Record informed State’s Attorney Andrew Killian that it would be illegal because it would violate the Illinois Open Meetings Act, which prohibits non-regularly scheduled board meetings from being held on legal holidays. Monday was Presidents Day.

After consulting with Killian, Board Chairman Randy Berger announced in a news release Monday afternoon that the meeting would be rescheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the board room at the sheriff’s office in Paxton.

“The change is necessary because the Illinois Open Meetings Act does not permit special meetings of public bodies to be scheduled on legal holidays,” Berger said in the release.

A revised agenda for Thursday’s special meeting was posted Tuesday morning. The agenda includes a discussion and potential action regarding the supervisor of assessments’ job.

At some point — and it could happen Thursday — the board will need to vote to accept Langland’s resignation, Berger said. Langland said she dropped off her resignation letter at the sheriff’s office on Monday.

When asked if he had a replacement in mind already, Berger said, “Not really.”

“We may come up with a suggested solution” regarding a replacement during Thursday’s meeting, Berger said.

Langland has fought off criticism for several weeks this winter after she and multi-township assessors serving the northern towns of Ford County reassessed 1,300 properties in that area. A number of residents were upset that their properties’ assessed values jumped significantly, with no seemingly logical explanation.

“There are a whole bunch of them that don’t make a bit of sense,” Roberts resident Larry David said in January. “One lady bought a place over here for $8,000, and magically, within less than a year, it’s a $76,000 home.”

Residents have flooded the county board’s meetings in recent weeks to complain about the reassessments and push for Langland’s resignation or the termination of her employment.

Meanwhile, 103 residents have filed appeals of their new assessments with the Ford County Board of Review, which will hear each complaint individually at a date to be determined. The board of review is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss and possibly take action related to the reassessments and the setting of dates for hearing the appeals.

The re-assessment of the properties in northern Ford County was done in order to make the assessments in those towns more “equitable,” Langland said in January. It was determined that the eight towns’ assessments were “out of balance” based on a standard set by the state called the “coefficient of dispersion,” Langland said. The complicated mathematical formula showed that many properties in towns like Roberts were either assessed “too high or too low,” Langland said.

Langland said that until now, owners of similar homes had paid disparate rates, with some paying $2 per square foot and others $30. Langland said illegal “sales-chasing” had been going on for years in Ford County, adding that assessing properties that way — based on what was paid for property — is inequitable.

Instead of re-assessing the properties based on recent trends in home sales, Langland and the multi-township assessors based the new values on “equity,” Langland said. Langland said there were not even 25 homes sold in the northern part of Ford County in the past year, so basing values off of the market in that area would not be practical, or even accurate.

Langland said that when properties were re-assessed, she and the multi-township assessors came up with nine categories of properties based on condition, style and age.

In the end, Langland said she accomplished what she set out to do: make the values more equitable. Now, Langland said, the cost per square foot will be the same for each property in a category in a given town.

A native of rural Beaverville in Iroquois County, Langland  began working as Ford County’s supervisor of assessments on July 1, 2016, taking over for the retired Candace Short, who held the position for the previous 13 years. Langland was appointed by the county board in June 2016 to a four-year term.

Langland previously was employed for 2 1/2 years as Calhoun County’s chief assessment officer. Earlier, Langland sold real estate for 18 years. She also was a licensed Illinois appraiser for four years and served as secretary of the board of directors of the Certified Illinois Assessing Officers.

Shortly after being hired in Ford County, Langland said she did not anticipate making any “big changes” to the way properties in Ford County are assessed or how her office operates. Langland said that Short “had everything really well in line, so there doesn’t have to be great, big changes.”

Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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