Too often in government, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Sadly, this was the case in Yavapai County.
As an elected official who served the people, I was always looking for ways to reduce the size of government while maintaining a high level of service. I had one such plan in my office to combine the separate Mapping and Title Transfer Departments into one department, thus eliminating a redundant supervisorial position. This reform would have saved county taxpayers almost $70,000, including salary and benefits. That might not sound like much but what if every department in government looked for the same efficiencies and reduced their size, taking less money out of the pockets of taxpayers.
The Assessor’s Office was blessed to have hard-working and dedicated employees who knew their jobs and performed them well. They did not require the same style of top-down management that had been common in government in the past. Modern management practices should be about giving people the tools and training to do their jobs and not about having someone always looking over their shoulders. This allows people to do their best work and it requires fewer supervisors. That is why I had proposed this reform in my office.
Once the Yavapai Board of Supervisors discovered my plan, they prevented it from ever being implemented by taking away the title and mapping responsibilities from the Assessor’s Office and creating a new department under themselves thus providing a job for the wife of the county manager.
This was a huge mistake and here is why. The primary responsibility of the Assessor’s Office is to locate, list and value property. That includes keeping track of the ownership of your home. If that vital task was turned over to an unelected bureaucrat, who would you hold accountable if there was a problem? When was the last time any bureaucrat was held accountable?
As an elected official, I answered directly to the voters at election time, and that is how it should be. The transfer and ownership records of real property was too important to our system of free enterprise to allow it to disappear into the morass of bureaucracy. The founders of our state understood this when they created the constitutional office of Assessor over 100 years ago – they wanted you to have someone to hold accountable, and that is why the position of assessor was created.
The Attorney General eventually weighed in. He stated that if the Yavapai Board of Supervisors took the mapping and title duties and responsibilities away from the assessors office and placed these tasks under themselves, they would be violating the law (please note the Board had already done this for nine months at the time the letter for the Attorney Generals office was sent – **letter from Attorney General’s Office can be found on this site).
The Yavapai Board of Supervisors then transferred these staff members and their responsibilities back to the assessor’s office – while sending the county manager’s wife to the Department of Development Services (interesting how nepotism works).
Pam Pearsall served as the assessor for Yavapai County for eight years, then wrote Whispers of Truth a tell-all book revealing corruption in government.