Kent County to provide equalization services for Montcalm County

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 8:48 am on Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Equalization Department at a glance

The Equalization Departments in Kent County and Montcalm County are responsible for property appraisal and mapping functions on behalf of taxpayers and municipalities. The staff updates property descriptions for area municipalities, creates map products and maintains property information records for reference by local municipalities, title companies, realtors, developers, surveyors, environmental companies, architectural and engineering firms and the general public.

STANTON — Montcalm County has entered into a one-year agreement for Kent County to provide equalization services.

The $65,000 contract began March 1 and will end March 1, 2013. Montcalm County paid Kent County $32,500 last week and will pay another $32,500 in October from the county’s general fund.

In return, Kent County will provide up to 16 hours per week of equalization services.

Montcalm County parted ways with former Equalization Director Richard Reeves in June 2011. Montcalm County is required by law to have an equalization director who is certified as a Michigan Master Assessing Officer (Level 4). Reeves had worked as equalization director since 1990, but he was not Level 4 certified.

Kent County Equalization Director Matt Woolford is Level 4 certified. He will work one day per week from an office in Stanton while maintaining connections to offices in both counties.

Montcalm County Equalization Department staff have been working without an official director since Reeves left last summer. Reeves earned an annual salary of $56,821.

“The equalization staff at Montcalm has been doing a good job during this period of vacancy,” Woolford said. “I look forward to working with the assessors and staff in Montcalm County.”

Kent County will design, implement and direct the administration of an accurate, uniform system of property tax valuations throughout Montcalm County taxing units to determine if such taxing units comply with property tax mapping and valuation requirement of the state of Michigan. Kent County also will develop recommendations for Montcalm County to provide for an adequate plan of work for the annual assessment and equalization cycle in 2012.

“The economic realities of the past decade mean we have to look for ways to be lean,” said Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio. “We see this as one more way to use tax dollars efficiently and effectively through collaboration.”

The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the contract with Kent County on Feb. 27.
“Montcalm County is always looking at trying to find innovative ways to save money and collaborating with Kent County is a way to provide needed services while saving money,” said Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer.

Commissioners thanked Hyzer for working to find a solution after Reeves left the Equalization Department.
“I think we owe a debt of gratitude to our controller for working on this issue and getting it resolved in a way that includes consolidation,” said Commissioner John Johansen of Montcalm Township. “I know Chris did a lot of work on this. It’s been somewhat contentious, probably, at times, not this agreement, but the solution.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” added Chairman Patrick Q. Carr of Lakeview.

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