Despite a low turnout, but enough to fulfill a quorum, the Page County Conference board approved its fiscal year 2020 budget on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in Clarinda.

As presented in its preliminary budget review Jan. 31, the conference board approved to retroactively make assessor office staff member Darla McCall’s annual pay $61,000. That was the amount retired assessor Peggy Smith had on her last day Dec. 31. That pay rate will continue for McCall until the next assessor is named.

McCall explained some of the highlights of the budget from the office for fiscal year 2020. Additional funds were made for training for new employees and the assessor and new technology. Litigation fees were increased for property assessment appeal filings.

This budget will be the last payment for Pictometry, an $8,420 project that started in 2017 for aerial photos of properties across the county. Other funds were set aside for the county property reevaluation project set to begin in July 2020.

The county is still waiting for applicants for its vacant assessor position.

McCall said the state department of revenue has scheduled the assessor test in late March at a Des Moines Area Community College campus. She does not know if any of the three who had passed the preliminary test has contacted the department of revenue to take the eligibility test. Passing that test makes the person a potential candidate to be named an Iowa county assessor.

Kim Behrens, who was named by the conference board last year to a three-person committee to find applicants, said last month three people from the Page County area passed the preliminary test.

O’Brien County, located in northwest part of the state, has been without an assessor since April 2018.

Testing includes laws related to property assessment for taxation, laws on tax exemption, assessment, taxpayer and property-owner rights among other information. The examining board had advertised for the Page County position last year through Iowa county assessor networks but no one applied. County assessors are appointed by the conference board and have six-year terms.

The conference board is made up of representatives from each taxing entities in the county including school districts and towns that works with the assessor’s office.

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