By Sarah Pridgeon
Theresa Curren has announced that she will run for County Assessor at the upcoming elections. Having worked in the office for several years, Curren says, she has a clear picture of the changes that need to be made to ensure that property tax is fair for every resident.
“I have the best interests of the taxpayer at heart. I’ve got the personality to listen to people and take in their considerations, to explain how values are done and how we came up with them,” she says.
“But I also have the courage to say no to changing assessments unless there is actually an issue. I want to make it fair for everybody so, if something really is wrong, I will look to see if anybody else is having that problem and change things county wide.”
Though a County Assessor is not by law required to be certified for the position during their first term, Curren has already taken this step. She also has three and a half years of experience both in the County Assessor’s Office and performing field work.
“I have been certified by the Department of Revenue since 2012 and am still certified for 2014,” she says.
“I have taken over 200 hours of classes to become permanently certified for the office, though I do need to keep up my continuing education and will be taking a class in 2015.”
During 2013 and 2014, she says, she was responsible for setting values for the county.
“I helped re-stratify the land in 2012, which means coming up with new land economic areas and making sure all the land is compared with other property types of the same topography, land size, trees, views and so on,” she explains.
“In 2013 I took on the neighborhood stratification, which is comparing homes with other homes. Previously, all the neighborhoods were in the same land economic area, so all the homes in Sundance were compared to all the other homes in Sundance, though there are huge differences.”
Also in 2013, Curren continues, she helped to change the way that equipment for personal property is evaluated, such as tractors and construction equipment. The Assessor’s Office now has farm equipment and antique tractor books available to help come up with a current market value and treat everyone equally.
“There are a lot of things I feel need to change and one of them is that I think everybody needs to be treated fairly. If a person comes into the office to complain about their taxes, I feel that they should be listened to but I also feel that their tax assessment should not change just because they came into the office,” Curren says of her plans for the office, should she be elected.
“I feel that, if there is a problem, it should be seen if there are other similar issues within the county. If that’s the case, then everybody’s needs to be changed rather than just that one person’s.”
Curren also feels that issues still exist with percentages being added to people’s properties without facts to back this up and that land and buildings should be critiqued on an annual basis.
“Another improvement I would like to make is the fact that the education in the Assessor’s Office statewide has been decreased. An assessor can come in and get temporarily certified by taking only two classes and that’s it, they’re educated for their four years,” she adds.
“I truly believe there needs to be more education and not less of it because the taxpayers need to know that whoever is taking care of their assessments knows everything they possibly can about it.”
Curren would also like to see more checks and balances for elected officials, such as for the Department of Revenue and State Board of Equalization to ensure that certification is being achieved.
“I believe that everybody in the office needs to be certified, even the field crew that goes out and measures your buildings and enters the information,” she adds.
Assessor should then oversee and control what is being entered, she says, taking a supervisory role.
Curren earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2002. She moved to the county in 2004 and married her husband, a third generation rancher with whom she has two little girls who attend Sundance Elementary.
“I’ve worked for the county for almost ten years and I feel that I know the courthouse and every office’s role,” she says.
“Because of that, I know what needs to be done and how to work with each office to professionally get along with everybody.”
Curren suggests that members of the community contact the Department of Revenue to become familiar with what it takes to assess their properties, including the education that is required.
“I don’t want anybody to take what I say for granted,” she says.
Curren welcomes any member of the community to contact her with questions and concerns on 896-2298 or 290-0839.