In this article, we will be discussing the qualifications and backgrounds of the two candidates running for the position of Lake County Assessor. The Republican incumbent, Jolie Kovich, and the Democratic challenger, Jerome Prince, both bring years of experience in the assessing industry to the table. Let’s delve into their backgrounds and explore their perspectives on key issues.
Qualifications and Experience
Jolie Kovich, the Republican incumbent, has been in the assessing field since 1989 and has accumulated extensive experience in the industry. She holds a level three certification and is a certified tax representative with the state of Indiana. Additionally, she is a member of the International Assessing Officials (IAAO). Kovich’s experience includes personally inspecting tens of thousands of properties, handling appeals, and adapting to changes in the industry over the years.
Jerome Prince, the Democratic challenger, has also been involved in the assessing industry for a considerable amount of time. He started working for a local Township Assessor in 1994 and later became a certified tax representative. Prince served as a Gary City Council person for two terms before becoming a Lee County Council person. His experience in government and budgeting processes contributes to his unique perspective as a candidate for Lake County Assessor.
Points of Difference
One of the key differences between the two candidates lies in their perspectives. Kovich emphasizes her experience in personally inspecting properties, interacting with taxpayers, and understanding their concerns. She also mentions her involvement in handling appeals and her ability to observe and adapt to changes in the industry over the years.
Prince, on the other hand, highlights his experience working on the other side of the assessing process, both as a Gary City Council person and a Lee County Council person. He believes that this perspective gives him an advantage in understanding the various components that contribute to achieving accurate property values and managing resources effectively.
Handling Appeals and Addressing Backlogs
A significant concern for voters is how the candidates would handle appeals, specifically addressing the backlog of appeals. Kovich explains that the backlog initially began in 2006 when sales data was accumulated and market factors were applied to property assessments. To deal with the backlog, Kovich decided to involve the township assessors in defending their own assessments, as mandated by the state. This move eliminated the need for a middleman and allowed the townships to work on their appeals directly with the Property Tax Board of Appeals (PTBOA), with the county’s support.
Prince commends Kovich for her work in reducing the backlog of appeals but believes that it should remain a priority for the office. If elected, he would focus on reducing the backlog further, working collaboratively with township assessors to establish common assessment practices across the county. Prince also emphasizes the need for effective management during the current reassessment process, as past oversights have led to appeals and false assessments.
Tax Exemptions and Other Priorities
Another important issue is the handling of tax exemptions and the candidates’ priorities beyond that. Kovich explains that the process of granting tax exemptions for non-profit organizations is handled by a department within their office. The applications for exemptions must meet specific requirements under the Indiana Code, and the office recommends these applications to the PTBOA for approval or denial. Kovich also emphasizes the need for thorough investigations to prevent falsified documents and ensure proper implementation of the exemption process.
Prince agrees with the current efforts to identify individuals who are not fulfilling their tax obligations responsibly but also believes that the assessor’s office should have a voice in broader issues. He expresses concerns about the elimination of personal property tax without a clear plan for replacing the lost revenue. Additionally, he mentions the impact of tax caps on school systems and local government budgets, highlighting the need to preserve value through various means.
In conclusion, the race for Lake County Assessor involves two qualified candidates with different perspectives and priorities. Jolie Kovich emphasizes her experience in the assessing field, personally inspecting properties, and adapting to industry changes. Jerome Prince, on the other hand, highlights his perspective as a former council person and his ability to manage resources effectively. Both candidates have plans to address the backlog of appeals and prioritize different aspects of the assessor’s responsibilities. As voters, it is important to thoroughly consider their qualifications, backgrounds, and visions for the future of the Lake County Assessor’s office.