Continuing education is only part of the focus

Oregon’s county assessors and their staffs, along with several county tax collectors convened in Salem January 23 to 26 for the 2017 Oregon State Association of County Assessors (OSACA) winter conference. At the winter conference OSACA devotes time to new assessor training and developing management skills as part of their continuing education requirements.

Current OSACA President Brian Beebe took pains to fill out the conference schedule with highly interesting speaker and topics of more general interest.

Some highlights:

– Professor Jim Moore, in his election recap, noted how slowly management positions in the new administration were being filled. He contrasted the breadth and depth of the federal Executive Branch to the multi-million dollar enterprises that the new President runs in the private sector. Dr. Moore wondered if President Trump intended to interview all management candidates himself – of course, an impossibility. Dr. Moore’s word to summarize the condition in D.C. today was “uncertainty.”

– Results so far on the extensive study by the Legislative Revenue Office on nonprofit property tax exemptions are showing that far and away the most costly tax expenditures in this sector are for hospitals. Of the first batch of published 2017 bills, there are already four that directly address the property tax status of hospitals, with not only the industry in the game but also SEIU. This issue will require participation by AOC, as well.

– AOC gave a presentation on the great diversity of county governance structures and how counties and the state share an integrated, interdependent partnership in public services funding and delivery.

– The Department of Revenue supervises the property tax system, so it is no surprise that its staff works very closely with counties. Conversations between DOR and assessors on business matters are open, robust and productive. It could serve as a model for state agency-county relations.

Contributed by: Gil Riddell | AOC Policy Director