The incumbent leans on his 15 years of experience in the assessors office

by: JASON CHANEY - Brian Huber took over for former Crook County Assessor Tom Green when he retired a year ago. Huber is now seeking votes to remain in office.

For the past year, Brian Huber has gotten his feet wet as the Crook County Assessor.

He is now seeking election in hopes of continuing the job for another four years.

Huber took over the position when long-time assessor Tom Green retired at the end of last year. He was appointed to fill the vacancy, and is now seeking election for a full term.

"I love real estate," he said of his candidacy. "I love being involved in real estate. I was a fee appraiser and realtor before, and I just love to watch the market and the trends."

Huber joined the Crook County Assessor's Office staff in 1999 as an appraiser, and he believes that his experience in the office makes him the best choice for voters.

"I went through the boom years of 2005 and 2006 when the market escalated insane amounts," he said. "I was here during the crash. I have been able to track it, and understand Measure 50, the complexities of that, and how it affects property owners."

Measure 50 was passed in the mid-1990s to prevent the wild swings in property tax rates that the housing market often caused. It established a 3 percent annual increase in property tax value, and as long as the real market value stayed above the Measure 50 value, homeowners would pay taxes based on the Measure 50 value.

In the years that followed, real market values stayed well ahead of the Measure 50 value, but during the recession, home values dropped below it, at which time tax rates were again subject to the more volatile real market values.

As a result, many homeowners saw a drop in property taxes during the recession, but now face a substantial tax increase this year as home values rebound.

Having been through the boom, recession, and initial recovery, Huber feels he is uniquely qualified to navigate the situation and correctly assess property values for homeowners, and predict how much tax revenue the City of Prineville and Crook County will have to work with.

"That's one of the more stressful portions of the job because it is an estimate," Huber said of tax revenue forecast. "Budget time is now, and we won't get the tax roll until November."

To run for assessor, a candidate must be a registered appraiser or appraiser trainee, and have two years accounting experience or two years employment in the assessor's office. Candidates must also be certified by the Oregon Department of Revenue.

While that may be enough to run for the office, Huber is not convinced those minimum requirements are sufficient to do the job well. Much of the job is bound by state statutes and administrative rules, but there is also an element of opinion and personal judgment when it comes to assessing property value.

"I think it would be difficult with just the basic accounting experience," he said. "You really need to know what affects value and monitor it. Someone would need a knowledge of real estate."

Huber feels he brings those skills to the position and is eager to put them to use for Crook County during these unique times.

"I just like everything about it," he said.

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