Let the debates begin – County Assessor

Robert Galbreath photo The four Republican candidates for county assessor participated in a public forum on June 30. Pictured, from left, are Corri Dorman, Laila Illoway, Susan Mitchell and John Paravicini.

The Pinedale Roundup,

Sublette Examiner, KPIN, Pinedale Online

and Sublette County Chamber of Commerce

organized public forums to allow candidates

the chance to answer questions and voice

their views.

On June 30, four Republican candidates

running for Sublette County Assessor – Corri

Dorman, Laila Illoway, Susan Mitchell and

John Paravicini – met for a debate.

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 18 and

absentee ballots will be mailed out on July 2

through Aug. 18.

Introductions

Dorman opened the forum by stating that

she is a 20-year resident of Sublette County.

Following 13 years at the Sublette County

Clerk’s Office, she works for Teton County.

Dorman gained experience “on the other side

of assessing” – the side of the person paying

taxes, filing documents and submitting

reports rather than assessing property.

“All I do is pay the taxes,” she said, “I

do know that we are higher in our levy than

Teton County and I don’t understand that.”

Illoway, a 33-year resident of Sublette

County and graduate of Pinedale High

School and the University of Wyoming, is

entering her 20th year at the Sublette County

Assessor’s Office. She served as deputy

assessor for 11 years before a promotion to

chief deputy assessor.

Illoway is a certified property tax

appraiser through the Wyoming Department

of Revenue with more than 500 hours

of continuing education. She mentioned

extensive experience with mapping and

appraisal software, customer service,

organizational skills and attention to detail.

“I can analyze the factors that affect

our property values and I’m aware of and

understand the regulations and the laws that

govern the compliance of all our properties,”

she added.

Mitchell, a resident of Sublette County

“the majority of my life,” spent 19 years in

the real estate and appraisal industry. She

also worked in the gas fields and gained

experience assessing energy production and

operations.

Mitchell operated several family-owned

businesses and stated that she understands

employee relations, financial operations and

the value of self-motivation.

“I know what fair market (value) is,”

she said. “I’d like to see it uniform and fair

through the market segments that we have in

this county.”

Paravicini holds the office of County

Assessor and worked in the office for 17

years. He is a certified property tax appraiser

with 600 hours of continuing education. He

received a degree in chemical engineering

from the University of Wyoming.

Paravacini became assessor in March and

had little time to prepare “notices of value”

for state audit. Due to a “crash course” from

his predecessor, Jeness Saxton, putting in

extra hours and “the diligent work of my

meeting the deadline “under the dark cloud

of the pandemic.”

The State Board of Revenue reported

that “Saxton was the gold standard of

professionalism and accuracy ... and that

they were very pleased by my statistics,”

Paravicini said. He added that he was “truly

humbled” to be included with Saxton in a

state report.

What steps would you take to ensure

Dorman replied that she understands the

certification process and is willing to take all

required classes. She hoped that during the

process, staff in the assessor’s office “would

be more than willing to see me succeed on all

of those tests.”

Illoway explained that the Department

of Revenue requires annual classes

and continuing education to maintain

certification.

“If you’re not certified, you cannot hold

the job,” she said. “Any new employee tries

to get as many classes in as they can.”

Mitchell said that through real estate

and appraisal classes, “I have an abundance

of education in the field.” Mitchell added

that she is willing to take any additional

requirements before she would become an

assessor.

Paravicini said the certification process

consists of four core classes that last a week.

“Everyone in our office is currently

certified,” he said. “As a small office, we do

a lot of cross training in various aspects.”

What goals would you have as county

assessor?

Dorman replied that she planned to

“always have that open door policy, to be able

to tell you why you’re paying the amount of

tax that you get on your assessed bill.” Her

primary goal included using technology to

calculate a “fair market value for everybody.”

Illoway’s goals included raising public

awareness about the assessment process

and state statutes that the office must follow.

She plans to “continue what we are doing”

to create a “fair and equitable list” to “value

and assess” property.

Mitchell emphasized the need for

“uniform and fair values throughout the

county.”

“As an appraiser, I am privy to a lot of

information and see a lot of things that are

going on,” Mitchell said. “I do know from

personal experience that uniformity is not

present at the moment and I would like to

see it reinstalled.”

She added that there is too much emphasis

on technology and not enough on the

“personal experience” of each assessment.

Illoway responded that the office uses a

“computer-aided mass appraisal system”

provided by the state to assess values for “the

purpose of taxation.”

Paravicini disagreed with Mitchell:

“Statistically, we are uniform and we are

being equitable.” Positive audits by the State

Board of Equalization show that the office is

“doing a very good job.”

He added that another goal is to become

“statistically compliant” with properties

affected by the Roosevelt Fire.

What qualifications do you have as an

assessor?

Dorman replied that her degree in business

administration and leadership classes

prepared her for managing an office and

providing customer service. She expressed

a willingness to learn “the formulas that are

needed” to input data into the system so that

“we are all fairly assessed on our property

values.”

In addition to the experience listed above,

Illoway talked about working with the

public. Field visits to assess property can be

unpredictable and conflict might arise, she

said.

“I have dealt with the people at the counter

that aren’t happy. You do your best. You try to

explain the process to them.”

Mitchell stressed the value of taking

a more personal approach to property

assessment. She added that she understood

the difference between “mass appraisal” and

“fee appraisal” from her background in the

profession.

“I truly believe that my experience, and all

the certifications I have in the real estate and

the appraisal industry make me qualified.”

Paravicini said his degree in chemical

engineering allowed him to develop and

create “classes for oil and gas equipment

appraisal.” He emphasized that the final

appraisal “comes down to the appraiser, not

just the computer system.”

“You have to have confidence in yourself

and your judgments,” he said.

Do you plan on changing staff if elected?

Dorman and Illoway responded “no” to

the question.

“The last thing you want to do in your

department is let people go,” Dorman said.

“I don’t think as a new assessor, you would

succeed in that position if you didn’t have

those underneath you supporting you.”

“We have an amazing staff,” Illoway

said. “They’re all knowledgeable, they’re

all certified.” She added that the Assessor’s

Office rarely experiences the problem of

turnover that plagues other offices.

“I firmly believe you need to be in the

office and see what’s going on before (staff

changes) come up,” Mitchell said. “But if

a change needs to be made, I wouldn’t be

afraid to make it.”

Paravicini stated that he “didn’t see any

changes coming down the pipes.”

Provide an example of when your ethics

were tested?

Dorman answered that as a title clerk and

notary, people asked her to “let things slide.”

She refused to compromise her ethics.

“That isn’t worth losing something that

you have worked for and paid for,” she said.

Illoway raised a similar concern that

people she knew might pressure her to tweak

forms and lower their taxes.

“You can’t do favors,” she said. “I don’t

believe I’ve broken any ethical standards

in the 20 years I’ve been in the assessor’s

office.”

Mitchell responded that in the real estate

business, “Our ethics are tested constantly.”

“You have to be strong in your numbers

and you have to support them,” she said. “You

must follow the standards of professional

practice.”

Paravicini stated that the “biggest

test” is during the period when mineral

companies protest “economic obsolescence.”

Companies can put forward numbers that are

“not defensible,” he said. A good assessor

must be ready to “rebut those numbers” and

follow protocol “in order to fair and ethical.”

Closing statements

Dorman stated that she does not have as

much experience as the other candidates.

“What I do have is customer service and

honesty. When you come into the assessors

office as a newly elected official, that’s where

your employees will have to step up for you

... They can guide the new assessor.”

Illoway stressed the need to work with the

public.

“It’s vital to have good customer service

and relations with the taxpayers because

they are the boss,” she said. “Many times

people aren’t going to be happy with their

assessments, but we still need to listen to

them and explain the assessment process and

be sure they’re informed and have a good

understanding.”

The best candidate is one that is

“committed,” Illoway stressed.

“I’m committed to my job and I’m

committed to the community,” she added. “I

strive for accuracy, fairness and uniformity.”

Illoway concluded that she may not

be able to “fill the shoes of the past two

assessors,” but she eagerly looks forward

to the challenge of learning new skills and

using the connections she has built.

Mitchell said that she offers a “unique”

take on the assessor’s role.

“I can bring a fresh perspective in,” she

said. “I do want to see uniformity and fairness

in property values. I do know that there are

things going on in the county. I would like

to have a very efficiently run office, and I do

believe I can do those things.”

Paravicini stated that assessors must be

“well versed” in all types of property, from

rural property to state assessed minerals.

“The position of assessor is really a Swiss

Army Knife of the appraisal world,” he said.

“The local economy has taken a major hit

in 2020 and the challenges that are going to

lie before this position will be complex and

will require an incredible amount of skill and

experience,” he added.

Paravicini emphasized that the county

assessor is a public servant, and that taxpayers

must be treated with “respect, dignity and a

specific amount of empathy.”

“I feel that my greatest strengths as a

candidate and what sets me apart from my

opponents is that when the chips were down

and somebody needed to step up in the

Assessor's Office and get them across the

finish line, I was the one to take on the task.”

that you and your staff are certified?

staff,” the Assessor’s Office succeeded in

Advertisement


Video News
More In Homepage