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New Minn. licensing requirements could mean shortage of assessors

WILLMAR — Kandiyohi County Assessor Tim Falkum will submit his letter of resignation Tuesday to the County Board.

His last day is Oct. 30.

Falkum is leaving his post to retire, but he worries there will be a future shortage of assessors in counties and cities in Minnesota as a new — more stringent — licensing requirement takes effect next year.

The Legislature approved changes during the last session that will require assessors to have more education, more training and to be "accredited."

Most assessors are "certified" in the field, said Falkum.

Top county and city assessors like Falkum must have senior accreditation that is necessary for setting values on complicated income-producing properties such as apartments and commercial buildings.

But he said most staff if a county assessors' office are certified to appraise properties most commonly found in rural communities: residential property and farmland.

The additional education needed to move from a certified assessor to accredited can be daunting, time-consuming and expensive, said Falkum.

Many townships hire part-time assessors who may earn a couple thousand dollars a year for their work, he said.

Because it can cost $1,500 to $5,000 to take classes to become an accredited assessor — plus at least three years of working experience — Falkum predicts many older assessors nearing retirement will simply quit rather than go through the additional training.

Those who are currently certified as assessors will have until 2019 to meet the new requirements.

Falkum said assessors support education that helps them do their jobs, but he said "retooling" the current license requirements may have been a better option than "forcing everybody to become accredited."

The Kandiyohi County assessor's office currently has one assessor that is already accredited and the others have agreed to become accredited, said Falkum.

That will mean extra county expense and time away from the office for training, but Falkum said the county is fortunate the staff is willing to take up the challenge.

Because of the expected increase in the number of retirements, Falkum said the assessing field could provide good career opportunities for younger employees willing to put in the time and education.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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