County assessor to retire at end of June
By Sarah Smith
With the sensitive position he’s in, Bob Hansen could have a million enemies.
In truth, he has none.
The Hubbard County Assessor is retiring June 30, the same day as Auditor Pam Heeren.
“You know, between us, we have 80-some years of county government experience,” he said, sounding worried already.
Hansen’s tenure with Hubbard County began 16½ years ago after stints in Polk, Roseau, Cass and Marshall counties. In all he has 41¾ years of government service.
He and wife Sharon love the area so they will be sticking around.
He’s pioneered his office through exasperating changes in computer systems, and now, reduction in force. Hubbard County is on a “lean” kick.
Although diplomatic about it, Hansen isn’t sure it’s good for taxpayers.
There aren’t enough bodies around to do comprehensive analysis work for taxpayers and groups that request it, he said. He hates to send away requests for interesting work.
He’s active in the Senior Nutrition program and upon announcing his retirement, was approached by three other groups to lend a hand.
Just as Heeren does, Hansen has a competent deputy he’d like to see the job go to, but he’s been staying out of the replacement discussions.
Instead of finding annual Legislative changes to the property tax system aggravating, Hansen has seen an advantage in keeping up.
There’s no such thing as a dull day, he maintains.
“Few things stay the status quo,” he remarked. “It’s a continuous moving target.”
He’s constantly researching new laws, implementing them and explaining them.
“Coming to work you have a purpose in life,” he said.
He marveled at the technology that includes tax statements, GIS mapping and deed information in the same repository. But he won’t be around long enough to see if the systems will also be melded together under one computer command.
He’s tried to give county taxpayers a fundamental grasp of a mind-blowing subject, the moving target of property tax changes. Every spring he visits all the 28 townships to see how they are doing, give a pep talk and dispense valuable information in his quiet way.
“I treat people like I expect to be treated,” he said. “I’m just trying to give a basic understanding of the process.”
He loves his staff and his fellow county employees and says he’ll miss them greatly.
He’ll also miss the interesting issues like the proposed crude oil pipeline in the planning stages.
One of his valuable contributions was a study a few years ago of lake values and how much they affect the “Big Picture” of Hubbard County taxes.
It turns out, greatly.
He has been patient as a saint in patching aging software together, rolling data from system to system (tax to appraisal) to find answers.
“It hasn’t been seamless,” he said in his typical low-key way. GIS mapping gives an exciting new angle to his work. Taxpayers can pull up a section of land and look at it from a photographic point. That mapping ability has been invaluable, he said.
He and Sharon plan a mini vacation, then hope to visit kids and grandkids in Bismarck, Fargo and St. Cloud while the 10 children are still in their formative years.
Then he’ll sit down for a bit, decide what he wants to do with the rest of his life, and quietly get about it.
He’s looking for his new “raison d’etre.”