Petersen: Changes in the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Petersen: Changes in the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office

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Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2013 8:45 am

On Aug. 19, I was honored to accept the appointment as the new Maricopa County Assessor from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The five-member board voted unanimously to appoint me to replace Keith Russell, who was previously appointed to be a Justice of the Peace.

I promised then, as I do now, to uphold their trust and continue to run the Assessor’s Office in the same professional manner it has been for the previous seven and a half years under Mr. Russell.

Prior to my appointment, I had the opportunity to work in the Assessor’s Office as the public information officer. During that time, we were able to restructure many of the departments and to consolidate many of our satellite offices. This has allowed for more efficiency and tremendous cost savings to taxpayers. In addition, we utilized technology to further our efficiency and service to our citizens. One example is the new assessor’s website, which was recently refreshed. Now the public has more tools available to them to research properties and see changes within the Assessor’s Office.

The backbone of the office is the professional staff. I am privileged to work with a dynamic group of individuals who take their responsibilities seriously. Through their efforts, the Assessor’s Office received many national awards, including two NACo Achievement Awards, multiple IAAO awards and local awards, one of which recognized the offices’ historic preservation efforts by utilizing the Santa Fe Railroad Depot for our consolidation efforts. They serve the hardworking taxpayers of Maricopa County well and I look forward to working with them.

I have always believed in transparency in government. The assessor’s duty is to locate, identify, and value all types of property found within Maricopa County. While the work that we do can sometimes be confusing, as long as we make efforts to clearly and competently explain to the public the methodology and reasoning behind how we calculate the values on the 1.6 million parcels, it goes a long way in fostering confidence in my office.

While I am extremely grateful for the excellent tutelage of Mr. Russell, there are areas in the Assessor’s Office that need improvement. For example, the Assessor’s Office is going to launch our new CAMA Project shortly. This is one of the most critical projects I will oversee; as it will completely overhaul the way the Assessor’s Office does business. Currently, the computer system we use is based on 20-year-old technology. Imagine for just one moment, comparing a new smartphone with the first ever cellphone. That is what it would be like comparing our current system to the CAMA Project. Once in place, the Assessor’s Office will be more efficient and productive, our data will be more precise, and our work product will be much improved.

While there are other areas that I will continue to reform, the most important and valuable promise I can make as the new Maricopa County Assessor is to continue to promote professionalism within the Assessor’s Office, promote transparency, and always seek to better serve the property owners of Maricopa County.

• Paul Petersen is the newly appointed Maricopa County Assessor.

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