Dedicated county official to retire next year

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

After 43 years of dedicated service to Barry County, June Smith, county assessor, will retire in August of 2009.

Smith, who graduated from high school in Aurora, began working in the Barry County Assessor's Office under Mike Cooper in 1967.

"Charles Vaughan, who I had known my whole life, told me about the job and I applied and was hired," said Smith.

When Smith originally accepted the position, Cooper was working out of his home due to health problems. Throughout her initial training, Smith was required to transport information between Cooper's home and the assessor's office.

In 1968, Glen Dale Nicoll took over the Barry County Assessor's position and invited Smith to continue to work in the office, which she accepted.

During the first few years of Smith's career in the assessor's office, she learned the ends and outs of not only the assessor's office, but also spent time in the county clerk and collector's offices.

"I would work in the assessor's office until May and then I would go help in the county clerk's office and collector's office," said Smith.

In the county clerk's office, Smith assisted in completing the assessments for school districts, cities and other municipalities. After the assessments were finished, Smith would help collect taxes in the collector's office until it was time to return to the assessor's office to begin recording real estate and personal property information again.

"I worked by myself for seven years," said Smith. "At that time we had 600 to 700 transfers per year. Today, we have over 3,000 real estate transfers a year and an additional 15,000 personal property transfers."

Over the first dozen years that Smith worked in county government, she perfected her knowledge of the assessor's office with only minor challenges. County-wide reassessments that were required in 1980 brought about the largest challenge Smith has seen in her four decades of service to Barry County.

"During that time some property assessments increased by five times," said Smith. "We sent out between 8,000 and 9,000 reassessment notices in Barry County."

Smith helped coordinate the installation of several rollover telephones at the assessor's office, which helped staff members answer questions and document concerns in a timely manner.

"I learned that people just want to be listened to," said Smith. "If they have a problem they appreciation someone just sitting down and listening to what they have to say. Most problems can be worked out if you just listen."

In 2000, Smith decided to make the jump from working in the assessor's office to serving as Barry County Assessor, an office that she won by drawing 1,754 votes in the Aug. 8, 2000, election.

"I felt I could continue to serve the people in the county as assessor," said Smith. "I knew I was capable of serving in the position after being here for this many years as chief deputy officer."

Over the last eight years, under Smith's leadership, several advances have been made in the Barry County Assessor's Office.

"We are not using manual typewriters anymore," Smith said with a smile. "We are also now working on getting county-wide GIS. I hoped to do that earlier in my career and have talked about it for about 10 years, but it looks like we will finally have the funds to let a contract out for it this year."

Smith has also helped promote growth within the assessor's office, and today, she leads a staff that includes 10 full-time and one part-time employees.

"I have really enjoyed being able to help when someone comes into the office with a problem," said Smith. "It's nice being able to help the people of Barry County the best we can."

When Smith retires next year she says she will miss the people whom she has had the opportunity to serve and work with in the assessor's office more than anything else about the position.

"I've met a lot of really nice people," said Smith. "I think I've been able to have a very good relationship with everybody. I really do love my job."

In August of 2009, when Smith steps down from her elected position, she plans to spend time working in her garden, volunteering in the community and travelling.

In addition to serving as Barry County Assessor, Smith served on the local OACAC Board for one year and held the office of president in the Barry County Republican Women's Club.

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