The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 8, 2012

City examines need for City Assessor’s Office

Clinton officials taking a look at combining function with county office

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — City officials will continue to examine eliminating the Clinton City Assessor’s office and combining its functions with the County Assessor’s Office.  

The Rules and Regulations Committee on Tuesday discussed eliminating the ordinances that establish and dictate the City Assessor’s Office.

If the ordinances were abolished, the City Assessor’s duties would be taken over by the County Assessor.

According to City Attorney Jeff Farwell, the item was proposed by Clinton City Administrator Jeff Horne.

However, during the discussion it became apparent that not enough details were available to move the proposal forward.  

According to the information provided by City Finance Director Jessica Kinser, the City Assessor’s $680,000 budget is not tied to the city’s budget and is funded through a 69-cent tax levy. 

Abolishing the office would not result in direct cost savings to the city, but could result in savings for taxpayers.  

Clinton is one of only eight cities in Iowa with a city assessor.  

The amount of the possible savings was unknown at Tuesday’s meeting due to a number of factors that have not been discussed with the County Auditor’s Office including city assessor’s office employees being transferred to the county.  

According to City Assessor John Moreland, consolidating the office with the county’s would not result in much cost savings and would mainly come from the elimination of his salary and benefits.

Moreland questioned the motive behind the proposal, which he said he received notice of on Friday afternoon when an agenda was delivered to his office.  

“If the agenda is that you do not like me, then at my reappointment, vote against my reappointment, but don’t abolish the office,” Moreland said. “I guess my question is what is the agenda here and who is behind abolishing the office?”

Moreland’s term ends on Dec. 31, 2013.  

Clinton business owner Dave Rose said he believed the office should be a part of economic development for the area, but is not acting in that fashion.

Moreland also pointed out $300,000 in special appraisals would be eliminated once the court case over the appraisal of ADM is resolved.  Eliminating the City Assessor’s Office also raised concerns over the city of Clinton’s pull on the Clinton County Conference Board, which would also affect the school district.

“It would seem no matter what we do, if we went forward as an investigative issue, we would have to have at this point cost savings... I think we’d need to have some sort of consolidation outline,” Committee member John Rowland said.

Committee members Paul Gassman and Julie Allesee agreed the proposal should be examined further.