Lag In Assessments, Home Values Spurs Assessor’S Race

Incumbent Dale Hom faces first challenge in 25 years from Northern Gila County realtor Deborah Hughes

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Dale Hom has quietly and efficiently managed the Gila County Assessor’s office for 25 years. He has done so well, no one has ever challenged him in an election.

Until for this year.

Deborah Hughes, a realtor from North County, hopes to unseat Hom. She feels it’s time for a change.

“Every time I sell a piece of property, I always go into the assessor information,” she said, “They don’t keep accurate records... I have no idea why there are so many errors.”

With the economy tanking, housing prices have dropped causing homeowners, realtors, and appraisers to struggle to keep up with the market. Meanwhile, tax assessment lags by two years, in accordance with state statue. When home values rise, that saves taxpayers money – but these day’s it’s causing angst.

A confusing mix of conflicting priorities has left many homeowners seething.

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Dale Hom • Gila County Assessor for 25 years. • Grew up in Gila County • Offers stability – has had same staff for his whole term in office • Has never run opposed in an election • Staff has remained with him all 25 year

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Deborah Hughes • Rim Country realtor for 17 years and business owner for 12 years • Longtime Arizona resident • Husband currently sits as Payson Town Council member • Feels Assessor information not up to date • Plans on updating Web site

In fact, Supervisor Tommie Martin attended a meeting of the Christopher Creek-Kohl’s Ranch Fire District, specifically to calm residents outraged about their property taxes. Residents could not understand why neighbors sold houses for a fraction of the purchase price, yet the assessor’s office still estimated their property taxes based on the higher sales values from years past.

The only comfort Martin could offer her constituents was that the assessor’s office would adjust the value of their home the next year because of state statute.

Meanwhile, Hughes said she has pulled up information on a piece of property that indicated it had no buildings, but when she took her client to see the property, it had a house on it.

She has shown other property the assessor’s office indicated did not have a garage, but did.

Hom feels he has done a good enough job that the voters have trusted him for 25 years, but he understands competition.

“You come to a job looking to improve over who came before you,” said Hom.

As with the other sitting office holders facing a challenge in this election, Hom has the formidable incumbent advantage, but he does not take that for granted.

“You’ve got to always be worried,” he said.

He feels his biggest challenge for the general election has been to continue working hard at his job, while campaigning at the same time.

Hughes has put up campaign signs in Globe and placed radio and newspaper ads.

“I feel confident and good about the feedback I’ve been getting,” she said of the campaign.

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