By KEVIN NEVERS
In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Democrat Maureen ďMoeĒ Wendrickx
and Republican Jon M. Snyder will vie for the office of Porter County
Assessor. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate
The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right
to edit for length.
(1) Age, place of residence, occupation.
Wendrickx: 61, Portage, Portage Township Assessor.
Snyder: 34, Portage, certified appraiser in Indiana and Illinois, small
(2) Describe the Porter County Assessorís responsibilities. (75 words)
Wendrickx: The primary duties of the Porter County
Assessor are to determine the assessed value of real and personal property;
oversee all reassessments; perform county-wide equalization; address the
tax-exempt properties in the county; and select the software vendor. The
Assessor serves as the non-voting secretary of PTABOA. Effective Jan. 1,
2011 the Porter County Assessor will determine the land values for all
classes of property located within the county.
Snyder: State statue spells out the duties and responsibilities of the
County Assessor quite clearly; however, it does not spell out HOW the most
basic of all responsibilities of the office are to be carried outóthose
being (1) to ensure that ALL properties are accurately valued and (2) that
ALL property owners are treated with respect and dignity when asking for
help in understanding the system that could ultimately rob them of their
(3) Describe your qualifications for the office, including whether you
currently possess a Level II certification. (75 words)
Wendrickx: I am a Level II Indiana
assessor-appraiser. I began working in the Portage Township Assessorís
office in 1998 as a deputy assessor. In 2007, I was appointed to the Portage
Township Assessor position, which I currently still hold.
I have first-hand experience in all areas of property tax assessment. I have
addressed and settled over 400 tax appeals. I will be a full-time County
Snyder: I take pride in the fact that
I am a certified appraiser in two states, in my certification as an Indiana
Level II assessor-appraiser, and my 13 years of experience as a professional
real estate appraiser. My several hundreds of hours of training in the
appraisal process and valuation methods far exceed the minimum professional
qualifications set by state statute.
(4) Why are you seeking election to the office?
Wendrickx: I want to be the next Porter County
Assessor because of my 12 years experience in the Portage Township
Assessorís office and I feel I am the most qualified candidate for this
position. As the Portage Township Assessor, I have similar duties as that of
the County Assessor. The assessing field has changed significantly and
continues to change. The County Assessor needs to be someone with the
knowledge and experience to address those changes.
Snyder: I am seeking this office because a continuation of the same
processes and analysis cannot continue. This office needs a professional who
understands customer service, operational efficiencies, and one who can work
proactively with the public instead of reactively. County government is
broken and I believe that I am the most qualified candidate who can repair
what needs to be corrected.
(5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe
yourself a better candidate. (125 words)
Wendrickx: My 12 years of experience in the
Portage Township Assessorís office clearly sets me apart from my opponent. I
have experience in every aspect of assessing. Appraisal is only one part of
being an Assessor. As an Assessor, we do mass appraisal, not individual
appraisal. The appeal process is mandated by Indiana Code and cannot be
changed. It is the right of every taxpayer to appeal their propertyís
assessment if they feel it is not accurate. It is also up to the Assessor to
support the value they have placed on that property. I have extensive
knowledge in all areas pertaining to assessing. I am a taxpayer also and I
understand the concerns of the homeowners and business community of Porter
Snyder: Porter County residents have a clear choice in this election.
They can elect their assessor from the same dysfunctional system in which
our current assessor is responsible for creating, or they can choose a
credentialed professional with business and valuation expertise.
(6) What are the key issues in the race? (125 words)
Wendrickx: The key issues to this race will be the
ability of the next Porter County Assessor to get accurate assessments,
hearing the abundance of tax appeals, and the ability to meet the timetable
for data compliance. The backlog of appeals must be addressed. The process
must be re-engineered. I plan to achieve this by effectively utilizing the
knowledge and experience of the County Assessorís staff and myself.
Snyder: I believe that Porter County Government has not been responsible
with dollars that have been entrusted to it by taxpayers in our county.
There is no excuse for Porter County to consistently be in the bottom five
counties in our state to have assessments completed on time. This has caused
a delay in tax bills being sent on time for several years.
Also the appeals process is confusing and lengthy. Utilizing the Internet
could be a great tool to assist taxpayers in the appeals process. Appeals
will not take over two years to complete under my administration.
(7) How would you avoid mistakes or delays in applying Indianaís assessment
laws? (50 words)
Wendrickx: The Assessorís office has a highly
trained staff. The dates the state has set for tasks to be completed are
very specific and Porter County is back on track. I do not foresee any delay
problems. Keeping up to date on the most current mandates will minimize
Snyder: With my experience as an appraiser I can work proactively to
identify assessment errors and work quickly to correct them. On-time
assessments will be a priority and I will demand excellence from myself and
my staff. I will work full time to insure that assessments are completed
(8) Is there local flexibility in the assessment process or is it a wholly
state-regulated function? (50 words)
Wendrickx: There are state statutes which govern
the assessing process. Therefore, there is little flexibility in the
assessment process because it is state regulated.
Snyder: Assessments are increasingly a state-regulated function but
there still is local flexibility. The county assessor is responsible for the
accuracy of the key components of value. Errors in these primarily local
decisions have resulted in thousands of appeals, added cost to government,
and continual delays in mailing tax bills.
(9) If elected, do you expect to ask the Porter County Council for
additional funds or employees to fulfill your responsibilities. Do you,
furthermore, expect to make any staffing changes in the office? (50
Wendrickx: As the Portage Township Assessor for
four years, I havenít asked for an increase in my budget. I have worked
within my budget utilizing the resources available to me. The current
staffing level at the County Assessorís office is sufficient to ensure the
work is finished accurately and on time.
Snyder: The mass appraisal assessment system is complex and a highly
trained staff is critical. If the annual budget is properly crafted
additional funding requests should only be the result of unfunded state
mandates. Without a capable staff, delays and errors will continue however
much money you throw at the problem.
(10) Do you regularly attend meetings of the Porter County Council and
Porter County Commissioners? Why or why not? (50 words)
Wendrickx: I have attended various council
meetings over the past years. Some because the subject matter pertained to
me as a taxpayer and other meetings pertaining to the office of Portage
Snyder: I have been to as many meetings as my schedule will allow. I
have attended them not because I am required to go but because I am
interested in county government and have been concerned by its failures.