An able manager departs.
Lane County's Department of Assessment and Taxation has been notably quiet in recent years. That's a good sign - other than the yearly release of recalculated property values and tax rates, any news out of the assessor's office is likely to mean trouble. For the past six years Anette Spickard, who announced her departure last week, has succeeded in maintaining smooth and up-to-date operations despite a steadily tightening budgetary noose.
When Spickard first sought the office in a three-way race in 2006, the campaign hinged on the question of whether the assessor should be someone with solid grounding in management and local government, or a person with a deep background in property appraisal. Spickard's strengths were in the former category, supplemented by experience as deputy assessor. She won with more than 50 percent of the vote and ran unopposed four years later.
Spickard's tenure has validated the choice. Despite a 23 percent decline in personnel, the assessor's office has cleared a backlog of appraisals, digitized its records and brought its tax maps up to date. The result is improved fairness in taxation and an equitable distribution of property taxes among Lane County's 82 taxing districts. A quickening real estate market could increase the pressure on the assessor's office, but Spickard leaves her department's affairs in good order.
Spickard is leaving to become deputy director of Springfield's newly combined department of development services and public works. It doesn't sound like a step up - the salary is about the same, and she'll be No. 2 in a city department rather than an independently elected official. But the move makes sense for Spickard. At 44, Spickard has done about all she can do in the assessor's office, and the new job will broaden her range beyond matters of taxation.
Before she became assessor Spickard served on the Eugene School Board, the Lane Council of Governments board and the Lane Education Service District Budget Committee. She's currently on the board of directors for United Way of Lane County. Such positions are often invisible, but a community can't function without capable people in them. People can expect to hear more from Anette Spickard, but they might have to listen closely - she tends to get things done without noisy conflict.