Chelsie Mathews has been named the new county assessor following a special meeting of the Albany County Board of Commissioners.
She replaces Grant Showacre, who announced his retirement last month in the midst of his fourth four-year term. The term expires at the end of 2022. The county assessor’s job is to evaluate property in the county for property tax purposes.
Mathews served as deputy county assessor starting in 2016. Prior to that she took turns as the office’s field supervisor and front office supervisor.
During Friday’s interview, she described her experience helping ready the office’s budget and prepare for hearings before the Board of Equalization, which decides disputes about valuations.
“The hearings are a really great time to educate the public on how we do the job, and that’s how I look at it,” she said.
She said an assessor ought to be willing to have hard conversations with the public, be both humble and kind, and have the ability to interpret statutes and analyze data.
“I don’t want to over-tax anyone, and I don’t want to under-tax anyone,” she said. “That’s really how the system has to work, otherwise it will fail.”
When taxpayers comes to the office with questions about a valuation, she said she first listens to their concerns before explaining how the office arrived at its conclusion. She’s also willing to address specific concerns by looking at maps or doing an inspection.
“I really like to have that the opportunity to educate the taxpayers so they can see how and why we do the job the way we do,” she said.
As she assumes leadership of the department, Mathews said she hopes to develop a system for notifying the public when an assessment is going to happen. She also plans to verify the accuracy of amenities at properties in the county’s database, which will aid in market analysis.
Mathews said she’s open to reaching out to the County Attorney’s Office and state officials when she has questions.
“There’s no shame in asking questions and learning from the experience and building on that,” she said.
Also applying for the position were former commissioner Tim Chesnut and Dave Meyer, an adjunct instructor in the University of Wyoming Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Chesnut said he joined the application process to support Mathews.
“I think she’s been doing the job for the last 10 years,” he said. “I think she’s got the most experience, and she knows what she’s doing.”
Meyer, who founded and sold a software company and now supervises a research team, said he wanted to bring “fresh blood and a new perspective” to the office.
“I think it would make sense in this cycle to delay Chelsie’s inevitable ascension to the head of the department and get someone in there with the expertise to bring in more technical training to help the department up its analytical game,” he said.
Mathews was sworn into office Monday morning.
“I’m really excited to serve Albany County, and I encourage anyone that has questions to give our office a call,” she said.