Page County welcomes new assessor

Jason Renander

Page County Conference board members vetoed a proposed 8 % pay increase for assessor Jason Renander during their meeting held Monday, Feb. 3, at the Page County Courthouse.

Part of Renander’s duties are to write the department’s budget which all county departments are preparing for fiscal year 2021 which begins July 1. Renander was appointed to the position last May to finish the remaining term of Peggy Smith who retired the end of 2018.

Page County Supervisor Chuck Morris asked why an 8.7 % percent increase was included. Renander said the amount includes the 4 % suggested by the county’s compensation board for all elected officials. The remaining increase is to get the position’s pay more in line with other Iowa county assessors.

“I’m not looking at the dollar, but what’s a similar compensation,” he said. “I enjoy it (the job) but it’s more involved than I thought.”

Renander started last May at $61,130 a year, as was budgeted, with no prior experience. It would have been the same rate of pay Smith would have received if she would have not retired.

During his research, Renander said he found six other Iowa county assessors with less than two years’ experience. O’Brien County appointed an assessor without any prior experience in March 2019 with starting pay at $66,500.

Renander said some counties looking for an assessor are offering at least $70,000 and still don’t have applicants. He said Iowa counties may have a shortage of assessors in the future.

He also compared the pay to Marshall and Fayette counties. Marshall County assessor’s pay in fiscal year 2018 was $103,741. The person retired last year after 43 years in the office. The county still needs an assessor.

Fayette County is searching for an assessor since a resignation in September. Their last assessor was paid $60,000 a year with five years of experience.

Conference board member Greg Jones, who represents the Clarinda school district, questioned comparing Page County to Marshall County knowing Marshalltown has a population greater than 25,000.

Page County Supervisor Alan Armstrong made a motion to revise the budget to include only a 4 % pay increase. The motion was approved with city of Clarinda representative Jeff McCall abstaining. He is related to an assessor staff member. Department head pay influences the pay rates for department staff.

Renander’s term expires Dec. 31, 2021, as Iowa county assessors are appointed to six-year terms by their respective conference board. Renander does not have representation on the compensation board.

The board gave a preliminary approval to the budget and will meet 5 p.m., Feb. 25 for final approval.

In other conference board news…

Justin King was approved as a new member of the county’s board of review for a six-year term. He replaces Sara Ketcham who did not want to continue for another term which expired Dec. 31, 2019. The five-member board will each receive $100 per meeting, up from $75.

The board approved Eagle View as its provider for aerial pictures of properties. The fee is $32,000 a year for six years. Eagle View will provide pictures twice during that six-year span. The next scheduled pictures are in spring 2021. Pictures are typically taken late spring or winter when leaves are not on trees for better clarity of properties.

Renander also budgeted paying for additional help to determine the value of certain properties like the new Bank Iowa facility and Agriland’s complex both under construction in Clarinda. The county is expected to begin a property re-evaluation beginning this summer.

The conference board is made up of representatives from each taxing entity within the county, mainly school districts and municipalities. Not every member was present but there was a quorum.

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