In March 1997, Kathy Hillmer began working in the Redwood County assessor’s office.
A little more than six years later, in April 2003, Hillmer was appointed to serve as the county assessor – a role she has continued to serve in to this day.
That will come to an end July 31.
Hillmer, who was initially hired as the deputy assessor for Redwood County, is retiring.
Hillmer indicated she was seeking out a challenging career, adding she was looking at the help wanted ads in the Redwood Gazette and thought the job sounded interesting. So she applied.
According to Hillmer, assessors are licensed through the State Board of Assessors.
“There are several steps of education and licensure levels that must be met. A county assessor must be licensed as a SAMA or Senior Accredited Minnesota Assessor. Each year there are continuing education classes,” she added.
Hillmer has enjoyed working with the local boards, the county board and the general public educating them on the role of the assessor. She also enjoyed serving on committees with the MAAO (Minnesota Association of Assessing Officers) organization.
“The biggest challenge is getting property owners to understand that the assessor places a value and classifications on properties as of Jan. 2, and these are used to calculate the portion of taxes they will be responsible for the next year. However we have no idea when we are placing them, what those taxes will be, because taxes are based on the budgets that the county, school district and city or township decide on in the fall,” she explained. “The state legislature sets the classification types which are residential, agricultural, commercial and, in some instances for the properties that qualify, exempt. The values are based on sales of properties that have occurred in the previous year’s sales study date (which runs from Oct. 1 thru Sept. 30). The Department of Revenue runs sales studies, and we use the sales studies to decide if our values are within the ranges set by statute.”
Hillmer added she appreciated the challenge of the job.
According to Hillmer, “over the last 20 years a lot has changed. The computerization of data has been the biggest one. When I first joined the assessor’s office, we entered all the values on a field card and added numbers using calculators. We now use a CAMA system to enter our data and the computer calculates the values and depreciation. There are still a few districts that hire local assessors who still do their books by hand. Also how people can view the data has changed. When all the information was in a book at the assessor’s office, people had to come to the office to view them. Now values are available on line on the county’s Web site. “
Hillmer made the decision to retire now for several reasons.
“The cycle of assessing for 2020 has wrapped up. I didn’t want to leave in the middle of the cycle,” she explained. “Also, my husband has been retired for over a year and we were hoping to be able to do some traveling. However, COVID-19 has placed that idea on hold for now.”
Hillmer indicated she will miss the challenge of the job and people she works with, adding she look forward to spending more time with her family.