CLINTON — Clinton County is beginning the process of hiring a new county assessor.

Clinton County Assessor Jill Heims submitted a letter of resignation March 7. Heims in the letter stated she is resigning from the county assessor position effective April 13 and has accepted the chief deputy assessor position in Johnson County.

"The last few years have been great working for Clinton County and I have enjoyed working with everyone here," Heims stated in the resignation letter. "This was a difficult decision and very bittersweet."

The Clinton County Conference Board on Monday convened to begin the hiring process to replace Heims. Heims' proposed timeline states the examining board is to request the registering of qualified candidates from the Department of Revenue. The Conference Board must receive the report of the recommendations of the examining board no later than May 4. The Conference Board chairman will call a meeting to appoint the new assessor on May 11, or no later than seven days after receipt of the report. The chair of the Conference Board will notify the Iowa Director of Revenue of the appointment of the assessor within 10 days of the board's decision.

"My suggestion would be to have our office go ahead and notify the association of the vacancy and put on our association website that the position is available with a deadline to apply that you guys can decide," Heims said. "And then at least by April 20 you could ask for the list from the Department of Revenue and then start the timeline. Otherwise if you wait until April 13 your time frame for people to apply, get notified, everything is very compact. And it was in legislation this year to change that. However, nothing has been done at this point."

The Department of Revenue decided with the new rules being proposed in legislation this year the deputy and assessor tests will not be given in April, like in past years, which will limit the number of eligible applicants. Expiration of eligible terms is resulting in candidates falling off the candidate list because they are not able to renew eligibility requirements. A special assessor exam may be hosted in Clinton County with a cost of $1,500.

"If you don't get what you consider quality or enough candidates to apply you can always offer a special test," Heims said. "The Department of Revenue does have to approve it. That was one of our talks in our meetings last week. You have to put forth good faith effort to replace the assessor and they would require a reason which you could say there wasn't a large enough pool to choose from, the experience wasn't what you were looking for, whatever. So the examining board doesn't have to interview any of these people before they request the test."

The Conference Board set an application deadline of April 9. The Clinton County Board of Supervisors is planning to vote on an appointment to the examining board. A representative must be a Clinton County resident not in the limits of the city of Clinton.