Montcalm County Equalization Department still in flux

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:53 am on Friday, October 14, 2011

STANTON — Equalization Department employees are missing their assessment roll specialist.
Senior Appraiser Kay Vestergaard and Address Administrator Deb Becker appeared Tuesday before the Montcalm County Finance & Personnel Committee and again asked commissioners to reinstate former Assessment Roll Specialist Yvonne Niswonger.
Becker and Vestergaard previously asked commissioners to use $10,000 of the $40,000 salary from Former Director Equalization Richard Reeves’ currently unfulfilled position, plus funds for dues, conference expenses and employee training to save Niswonger’s job. Commissioners did not respond to the request.

The two women made the same request again Tuesday.

Montcalm County has a waiver from the state that allows Vestergaard — who is a Level 3 assessor — to sign necessary county documents. The state requires the county to have a Level 4 assessor on staff.
“This past week we’ve tried to keep up with our regular duties along with all the duties this position has done in the past,” Becker said. “We find we are falling behind. This position is in desperate need in this department to keep us functioning at the level we have in the past. We have shown you where the money can come from that we need for this position.”
Vestergaard said she is currently doing the work of three appraisers, plus clerical duties.
“This position is vital at this time of the year,” she said. “Please reconsider and bring back the assessment roll specialist. I am happy as a courtesy to sign the roll and everything else that needs to be done for the rest of the year so please consider using that money that you are not using to pay a director to fund the position.”
In response, Montcalm County Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer told commissioners he has had discussions about hiring a director for next year, as well as about contracting with other counties.
“They’re still getting used to things a little bit,” said Hyzer of the remaining Equalization Department employees. “If I see anything I’ll bring it up to the board in a couple weeks. I want to let it shuffle out a little bit.”
Commissioners voted Sept. 26 to eliminate Niswonger’s position as part of $1.3 million in budget cuts, as well as the position of Junior Appraiser Peter Saladin.
Reeves stepped down in June. Becker, Vestergaard and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Mapper Dennis Swain remain in the office.
Hyzer is currently managing director of the department.

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