The veteran Allen County assessor will run against a political newcomer vying for the Republican slot in the May 6 primary.
Republican Allen County Assessor Stacey O’Day is being challenged by Kimberly Klerner.
Sam Walker, 33, is running unopposed as the Democratic candidate for Allen County assessor. Walker is the deputy assessor for Wayne Township.
O’Day, 48, is nearing the end of her second term in office. She began her career with the assessor’s office as a records deputy 24 years ago.
The Allen County Assessor’s Office oversees 156,000 parcels, the largest land area in the state of Indiana and one of the most complex, with a mix of agriculture, commercial and industrial and residential properties, O’Day said.
She also serves as a legislative chair and vice president for the Indiana County Assessors Association and was appointed a board member of the Association of Indiana Counties.
It’s a huge benefit for a county of this size to have a voice at the Statehouse, O’Day said.
O’Day said tracking the ever-changing legislation is among the biggest challenges she’s faced in recent years.
Assessing is a complicated system, and it’s constantly changing based on the legislation, she said.
O’Day said she has cut the office’s general fund allocation by more than $300,000 and reduced her staff by attrition from 48 to 36, meanwhile completing appraisals on time and reducing the number of appeals.
In 2009, she was named Indiana County Assessor of the Year by her peers and Outstanding County Assessor of the Year by the Association of Indiana Counties.
Her success, and the hard work of her employees, is evident from the moment a taxpayer enters her office and sees the Wall of Fame letters from her customers, she said.
Taxes are not always a warm and fuzzy situation, O’Day said. But it’s very important to me that we maintain a high level of customer service.
But her challenger, Klerner, says she’s talked to taxpayers who aren’t pleased with the job O’Day is doing.
I’ve been contacted by several different people telling me that the office has lost the customer service touch, Klerner said. And after talking to them, I decided to throw my hat into the ring.
Klerner, 49, worked for 13 years in the Allen County Assessor’s Office and worked as a service manager at Integrity Financial and Tax Consulting for four years.
She has worked through two reassessments – the first during her time with the county and the second while working at Integrity Financial.
Klerner said she left Integrity Financial to avoid any conflict of interest during the campaign.
Her greatest challenge will be helping the public understand how the assessing process works, Klerner said.
Assessors complete mass appraisals that can be appealed later on an individual basis, she said.
We just don’t have the time and the resources to look at each property individually and I think there are some taxpayers who don’t understand the process, Klerner said.
If elected, Klerner said she would focus on customer service and making sure everyone feels welcome to have their questions answered.
The office is so busy with all of the processes that have to be completed that I think sometimes we forget we are dealing with humans on the other end of the phone or at the counter, she said. I want to take the extra time to make sure they understand the answers to their questions.