Montcalm County may contract out for equalization services

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 1:54 pm on Tuesday, January 10, 2012

STANTON — Montcalm County may contract with Kent County for equalization services in the near future.

Montcalm County Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer told the  Finance & Personnel Committee on Monday that he is in talks with Kent County Equalization Director Matt Woolford to possibly contract with Woolford’s department.

Hyzer said he and Woolford will likely meet later this week to finalize details to present to the full Board of Commissioners at the Jan. 23 regular meeting.

Richard Reeves stepped down as Montcalm County’s equalization director last June. Senior Appraiser Kay Vestergaard was the interim director of the department until Dec. 31.

According to Kelli Sobel of the State Tax Commission, Montcalm County’s combined commercial, industrial, utility and special acts in state equalized value (SEV) for 2011 was in excess of the $424 million limit, necessitating the oversight of an equalization director certified as a Level 4 assessor.

Montcalm County received a waiver from the state that allowed Vestergaard — who is a Level 3 assessor — to sign necessary county documents until Dec. 31.

Also on Monday, the Finance & Personnel Committee voted to retain Assessment Role Specialist Yvonne Niswonger until June 30.
“That position is pretty much needed going forward right now as we look for a new director,” Hyzer said.

Commissioners previously laid off Niswonger last October as part of $1.3 million in county budget cuts. In late October, commissioners voted to reinstate Niswonger for 24 hours per week for eight weeks.

That eight weeks expired last Friday.

“We appreciate that the Board of Commissioners have extended the assessment roll specialist’s position through June 30, 2012,” Vestergaard said. “But the valuable work that Yvonne Niswonger does will be there beyond June 30.”

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