September 22, 2021

Deegan returns to county assessor’s office

Former Jasper County assessor fills in until review board finds replacement for DeJong

Jasper County has been without an assessor since the beginning of July.

Until someone else is hired to replace the position previously held by Tracy DeJong, who resigned at the start of the new fiscal year, the assessor’s conference board decided Tuesday night to have retired county assessor John Deegan handle the day-to-day operations of the office for up to 60 days.

To do so, the conference board had to formally appoint Deegan as the county assessor. When the new county assessor has been hired, another formal action will be needed to appoint the newcomer and consequently relieve Deegan of his duties, which members strongly affirmed is only temporary.

The conference board — which is comprised of all the mayors within Jasper County, representatives of the school boards and the county board of supervisors — held a special emergency meeting to discuss the current status of the hiring process handled by the assessor’s board of review.

Newton News was notified of the meeting hours earlier and was able to attend. Doug Cupples, chairman of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, explained that DeJong left her office July 1. Up until the paper was contacted about the meeting, Newton News was unaware the county assessor had resigned.

Cathi Fouts, a member of the review board, said per the supervisors’ request they had filed with the state to receive a list of certified assessors. As required by law, the review board posted notices and sent letters, Fouts said. So far the review board has received two applicants, whose references were checked.

“Now we’re in the process of scheduling interviews,” Fouts said.

Jasper County Supervisor Brandon Talsma asked members of the review board how soon they could conduct the interviews with applicants. Fouts said nothing has been scheduled yet but they can be held as soon as one day after the special meeting on July 21, which was also the closing day for applications.

“We were just kind of wondering what was going on and we were willing to bet a vast majority of people probably didn’t even know she resigned,” Talsma said. “Secondly, we were kind of wondering where we were at in the review process, because obviously this is something we have to get taken care of.”

Currently, Kat Thompson, who is listed as an appraiser on the Jasper County Assessor’s Office website, had been appointed deputy assessor for the time being. Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott said Thompson has a temporary certification and is not fully certified as an assessor.

Talsma said Thompson has worked in the office for less than two years and he county wants to make sure even the day-to-day operations are going properly.

“My treasurer is already getting a little bit concerned with tax statements getting ready to go back out in September,” Talsma said, noting the commercial reappraisals are also kicking in and wondered if recruiting Deegan, the former county assessor, may help until the position has been filled.

Deegan indicated he was willing to help Jasper County.

“I love this county,” he said. “I’ve been here 35 years now. I want to see it thrive. I don’t want to see it turn bad. I could help, yeah. But I don’t have the time to do it full time. I’m not going to be a 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. person. I just won’t be there. I don’t have that time.”

Cupples said once the review board looks over its two candidates, it will then bring recommendations to the conference board to appoint a new assessor in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Deegan will work as the interim county assessor, but only for 60 days.

When Deegan retired in 2018, he was making roughly $90,000 a year. As the county’s interim assessor, Deegan suggested he be paid that same hourly rate or monthly rate; so approximately $7,200 per month or $43.27 per hour. Deegan said he will work all the hours he can and will be on call.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.