Short appointed interim chief assessor for Ford County

PAXTON — The Ford County Board voted to accept the resignation of Patricia Langland as the county’s supervisor of assessments during a special meeting last Thursday, then voted unanimously to appoint Candice Short to the position on an interim basis.

The 62-year-old Short was first appointed to the position 15 years ago. She retired as supervisor of assessments on June 30, 2016, “in order to have the time to pursue other interests.” Overall, she worked for 19 1/2 years in the supervisor of assessments office.

Following a brief closed session, the board voted to hire Short on an interim basis for up to 60 days at a rate of $60 per hour. Her appointment was effective immediately.

Meanwhile, the board called a meeting of its insurance and personnel committee for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, to discuss the qualifications for a more permanent replacement and to discuss an advertisement for the position.  Whoever would be appointed would be expected to serve a four-year term.

Langland resigned as supervisor of assessments effective Feb. 19, stating in her letter of resignation that she did so “for health reasons.” Langland told the Ford County Record that ongoing conflict between her and the board contributed to her decision to step down after only a year and a half on the job.

“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.”

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 Short, who held the position for the previous 13 years. Langland, who was appointed to a four-year term, previously was employed for 2 1/2 years as Calhoun County’s chief assessment officer.

The board voted unanimously to accept Langland’s resignation during Thursday’s special meeting.

Earlier that day, the Ford County Board of Review voted to reverse the controversial new assessments that Langland had assigned to some 1,300 properties in eight communities last year. Langland used an “improper” method to reassess the properties, board of review members said in taking the action.

Board of Review Chairman Ron Bork of Piper City told the county board Thursday that by reverting the 1,300 properties’ taxable values back to what they were in 2016, the county can expect its multiplier to rise.

“By rolling these back to 2016 levels, they will still be overassessed according to what the state of Illinois’ revenue department has concerns with now,” Bork said. “Meanwhile, the areas of Paxton and Gibson City will be underassessed.

“By rolling these back to 2016 levels, this will most likely increase that multiplier from what we thought it was going to be about a month and a half ago.”

Bork said that by the end of March, the county should know what its multiplier will be.

“A rough guess, from what (the state has) told us before, is we’re looking probably at a multiplier of 2.036 percent,” Bork said.

State’s Attorney Andrew Killian said it is possible to have the county’s multiplier lowered, but only if its townships “put on their own multiplier.”

“I think the board of review will be talking with the townships in the upcoming year — especially Patton, Button, Drummer and Dix, which were underassessed — and if those townships were to enact their own multiplier, it has the potential of lowering the multiplier that the county may get as a whole,” Killian said.

Added Bork: “We’re also asking, in essence, that the multi-township assessors go back out and do diligence as to what they can in the county and basically try and reassess all the properties next year. ... There will be a lot more work this next year by all assessors to try to correct this problem.”

In reversing Langland’s reassessment of the 1,300 properties, the board of review noted that the action will only apply to those properties that were “revalued using an improper assessment method.” The board of review added that “if an assessment was changed (in 2017) because of a building being demolished or added, those assessments shall stand as revalued.”

Rural Roberts resident Cindy Ihrke, however, argued that all properties should see their assessed values revert to their 2016 levels, not just some. Ihrke told the county board Thursday that several “errors and omissions” had been discovered in a legally required notice to taxpayers published in the Ford County Record regarding changes to their 2017 assessed values.

“Since proper legal notice was not given to the taxpayers, we believe these errors justify stopping the rolling of all assessment changes to the state, regardless of method used,” Ihrke said. “There is no penalty to the county for not rolling these taxes forward and simply implementing the previous year’s assessments as if no changes were made.”

Killian responded by telling Ihrke that state law does not “provide the county board with any remedy.”

“The law sets up the process with the supervisor of assessments level, then with the board of review, then to the state property tax appeal board if necessary,” Killian explained. “So the board of review has done what they are permitted to do under law in their action, but the county board, at this point, has no remedy.”

Also during Thursday’s meeting, the county board voted to reappoint two board of review members, retroactive to June 1, 2017. Their terms will run through June 1, 2019.

The county board also voted to hire Gibson City-based MCS Office Technologies to provide offsite backup service for computers in the offices of the supervisor of assessments, county clerk, county treasurer and coroner. MCS Office Technologies’ Todd McNutt and Bob Taylor recommended the backup solution.

The county board, meanwhile, postponed a decision regarding whether to buy new computers for the supervisor of assessments office, as had been requested by Langland.

“I want to re-evaluate it,” board member Tim Nuss of Roberts said.

Meanwhile, Nuss said he would like to work with MCS and other vendors to develop a “comprehensive disaster recovery procedure” in regards to information technology.

Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

Comments

The Paxton Record embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. we reserve the right to remove any comment at its discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments