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Communication needs to be improved, Fulton says

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

In the election for assessor of Platte County, incumbent Lisa Pope is facing challenger Marcena Fulton.

Pope, a Republican, was first elected to the position of assessor in 2004. She was previously the chief deputy assessor for 14 years before being elected to the top office.

Pope said her accomplishments since being elected include increasing the amount of information available on the internet through the county's Geographic Information System (GIS). Pope said her office is also working on setting up a system to file personal property information online and is working to enhance the GIS.

Pope said one of the biggest challenges is properly assessing the price of property in the current economy.

“We've lowered some houses before,” said Pope. “Appraisers adjust the price. If sales in the area go down, we've got to lower it.”

The assessor's office has also put in a new computer system.

“We outlived the other one, this one works a lot better and is more flexible,” said Pope.

Recently the West Platte School District has had an issue with the Platte County Assessor's office regarding the assessment of construction at the new Kansas City Power and Light power plant at Iatan.

“For 20 years, construction has been assessed at 50 percent,” said Pope. “I didn't think I could change because they are building a power plant. West Platte thinks we need to do a higher rate. I feel that if we had done anything besides 50 percent it would open us to a lawsuit. It would have taken money from all taxpayers to fight this.”

Pope said she has tried to work with the school district, but realizes that the district must want more money.

Pope said that if the housing market continues to go down, then the assessor’s office could begin lowering home values.

“Reassessment doesn't mean the value has to go up,” said Pope. “We have to watch everything, but we can lower values. Platte County is currently one of a few counties holding its own with property values.”

Pope is being opposed by Marcena Fulton, Democrat, in the November election.

Fulton has been chief deputy county clerk for over 13 years and was a deputy for two years before.

Fulton said one of the most important issues for the county assessor is to communicate better with citizens and let them know why their property is being reassessed.

“A lot of people got reassessments and don't know how it was figured,” said Fulton.

Fulton said the office should better explain how reassessment is calculated and be more open to speaking with citizens who have questions.

“People are not being treated like taxpayers,” said Fulton. “The frustration of taxpayers is in not being told how things work.”

Fulton said that appraisers don't have to raise the value of property every two years.

“It's not against the law to lower values,” said Fulton. “If they decrease values, the departments will have to tighten their belts.”

“I love the job I have now. I wouldn't run if I didn't feel like we needed a change over there,” said Fulton. “I will work for people and with other offices to better serve the public.”

Fulton also addressed the issue with the West Platte School District. According to Fulton, the issue stems from the school district not being given the proper information they requested.

“The school district has a right to ask, but the information has not been given in full,” said Fulton.

Fulton said utility construction is usually assessed at 50 percent and it is not unreasonable to assess it at that rate.

“It is one of the biggest projects in Platte County,” said Fulton. “It is a big part of their budgets and Kyle Stephenson (superintendent) is looking out for the best interest of his community.”

Pope and Fulton will be on the ballot at the Tuesday, Nov. 4 election.



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