Iron County Assessor: Jeff Mitchell

Please tell us your name and why you are running for County Assessor.
Jeff Mitchell, I’ve worked in the Assessor’s Office for the last 6 years as an Appraiser. Dennis Ayers the current Assessor decided that he was going to retire and not file again. With his support I decided to throw my name in the hat. I believe that I have the needed skills and demeanor to run an effective Assessment process so it seemed like a natural fit.

Why have you decided to live in Iron County? I moved to Iron County 10 years ago. My extended family all lives in Iron County and I love the area. This is home and I enjoy being here.

What is your favorite thing about living in Iron County? I enjoy all of the outdoor activities. I love fishing and camping and there are fantastic and diverse areas to explore these habits in.

What is your professional/ educational background?
State Certified Residential Appraiser

Designated Ad Valorem Residential Appraiser with the Utah State Tax Commission

6 years as Deputy Assessor

Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics

Masters Degree of Administration in Public Management in Progress

What do you think are the most important skills for a county assessor to possess?
Communication is probably the greatest skill that the Assessor needs. Being able to communicate what the Assessor’s responsibility is to the public is very important. The Assessor also needs to have a firm and current knowledge of the Assessment process and what the affects of different legislation are. The Assessor needs a strong sense of equitability and fairness, management and administrative abilities, the ability to listen which brings us back to the greatest skill of communication.

What do you see as your top priorities if you are elected?
Keeping a fair an equitable assessment of all real property with no groups receiving special treatment.

Another priority is to make sure the transition goes smoothly during the switchover of Assessor’s. In such a volatile market there is no time for a transition period.

The County Assessor works with and directs a whole team of assessors, what kind of leadership skills or experience do you have?
My pursuit of a Masters in Administration in Public Management which will be nearing completion has given me a strong basis for administration with much insight gained. I’ve also managed various sized teams on a smaller scale in different jobs. Leadership in volunteer activities outside of work have been numerous and varied in level of responsibility.

Sometimes people have disputes or complaints about how their taxes were assessed, how will you deal with these complaints and disputes?

As fairly and equitably as possible. The Assessor isn’t perfect. Given this the Assessor needs to be able to admit when he’s wrong and correct those mistakes. An Assessor also needs to be able to defend its values if the appeal is frivolous or unfounded. If all unfounded or frivolous complaints are given into there is an unfair tax shift onto those property owners that don’t complain.

The County Assessor has to be a certified appraiser, how important do you feel it is for the county assessor to be doing actual appraisals?
An appraisal by definition is an opinion of value. Given this there is no way for an appraiser to become certified without doing ‘actual appraisals.’ It is very important for an Assessor to have experience in giving opinion of values. Being a Certified Residential Appraiser I have completed many actual appraisals that will be of benefit in the office.

During the past few years the number of foreclosures and short sales seem to have increased, what influence do you think these factors should have on property values?
Short sales and foreclosures have a downward affect on property values. There is no way to deny that. The Assessor each year conducts a sales ratio study in which they research sales and determine if values in certain neighborhoods throughout the county need a ‘factor’ either up or down. Traditionally the Assessor’s office only uses arms length transactions (not short sales or foreclosures). The reason for this is that Short Sales and Foreclosures have an extremely high rate of volatility and it is difficult to come to a rational decision about what market value is based on these kinds of sales. There have been enough arms length transactions that a reasonable assessment can be preformed. Short Sales and Foreclosures lower the value of arms length sales because arms length sales have to compete with these sales. Given this the value of an arms length sale is often comparable to that of a short sale or foreclosure but delivers a much more stable measuring point.

How do you think properties without many other comparable properties in the county should be assessed?
This is a great appraisal question. There are many unique properties in Iron County that are difficult to determine the value of on a good day and near impossible to figure out on a bad day. The cost approach is often reliable to determine the value but the best possible answer is to say these properties should be valued on a case by case scenario.

Some places use different methods for determining property taxes, do you think we should be pursuing any of these other methods?

If we do pursue looking into different methods of Assessment it must be done with much study and thought. Too many states have jumped onto a method without doing proper research and it has come back to hurt them. There are many assessment methods and some would be worth exploring. I personally believe that Utah has a fair system that might just need a little fine tuning.

Why should we vote for you?

My level of experience and education will be an asset to Iron County. I also am a good communicator. I have the disposition to make sure the job is done correctly and fairly. I currently work in the Assessor’s Office and have the support of the outgoing Assessor. The outgoing Assessor knows what is needed and expected of the Assessor position and would be a good judge of which candidate would best fit that role. I hope to have your support in the upcoming primary on June 22nd and would like to visit with any of you that have questions. Thanks for reading.

What is the best way for people to learn more about you?

E-mail or phone 435-531-6842