There's a dearth of candidates for township assessor slots in the Quad-Cities area, likely caused by a state requirement that anyone holding the job be a Certified Assessing Officer.
"There are only two positions in the state you have to be qualified to run for," said Rock Island County Chief Assessment Officer Larry Wilson. A state's attorney much have a law license, and a township assessor -- who assigns property values upon which real estate taxes are based -- must be certified.
There are 15 assessment districts in Rock Island County. Of the 14 assessor positions up for election April 9 -- Coal Valley Township contracts out the position -- 11 are uncontested and three are vacant with no candidate.
There are 15 assessment districts in Henry County with 12 assessors. Six are up for election next week, but only Kewanee Township has a candidate -- Jennifer Prescott -- who is running unopposed. The other races have no candidates.
The educational requirements are stiff. To earn the initial designation as a Certified Assessment Officer, up to five courses must be completed through the Illinois Property Assessment Institute and/or Illinois Department of Revenue.
The courses cost $340 each and are commonly held in Bloomington and Springfield, lasting from two to four and a half days. The student covers the costs -- classes, hotel, food, gasoline -- to earn a designation to run for an office they don't know if they will be elected to or not.
To maintain the designation, 60 hours of continuing education is required every four years.
Mr. Wilson said the classes are important."You are valuing property, and you have to understand state statutes. Also, assessing property is different from fee appraisals. We are involved in the mass appraisal of property, and we value hundreds of properties at one time. It requires different skills than fee appraisals," he said.
Henry County Chief Assessment Officer Lindi Kernan likes the educational requirements. "They are very important. The whole tax process starts with your local township assessor," she said.
Ms. Kernan said sometimes a person can get hired by a township as a deputy assessor and earn the designation while working, with the township possibly covering the cost.
Other things could also be deterring people from running, she said. In smaller townships, the assessor is usually a part-time position and isn't paid as well as in a larger township.
For that reason, some townships are joining forces and funding to share an assessor, who can then work full-time, Ms. Kernan said. In other cases, townships without an assessor contract out the position.
Charles Tague has been Cordova/Port Byron multi-township assessor since 1996 and is unopposed on April 9. Last year, the multi-township assessment district of Canoe Creek/Zuma contracted his services.
Mr. Tague said the education required to do his job is worth the effort. "It is something you have to enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, you have no business doing it. In years past, people would run for office just to have a job and collect a paycheck," he said, adding a person can't do that and be the assessor. The requirements almost ensure candidates are very interested in the job, he added.
"The taxing bodies -- cities, villages, schools, fire protection districts -- would not receive any money unless the assessments were done," Mr. Tague said. "You want a fair and equitable assessment for everyone."
Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses. 1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000. 1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city. 1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association. 1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College. 1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.