It has been almost a month since Christie Smallfoot began her official duties as the Otoe County assessor and the operation seems to be going smoothly.
Smallfoot credits that smooth operation to being prepared for the job. She worked for nine years under the previous assessor, Therese Gruber.
For the last year and a half, Smallfoot said Gruber stepped back a little bit and allowed her to do some of the assessor paperwork and get a feel for the office.
Without having that preparation, Smallfoot said taking on the assessor job would have been doable, but more stressful.
The Otoe County assessor’s office employs a staff of five. Rayna Lane is now the deputy assessor while Pam Maybee works as the GIS specialist.
Judy Crouse and Roxy Moyer are appraisal assistants.
The five-member team faces a daunting job. Otoe County has roughly 13 thousand parcels of land.
“We have to physically review each one of those parcels in a six-year period,” said Smallfoot.
In addition, the assessor office has to keep track of permit work, i.e. changes to the land. If a new building is added or taken down at a property, for instance, the assessor’s office goes out and reviews the land again.
Despite that review, the land keeps its spot in line for the next review.
Even if land is reviewed in its fifth year since the last assesment due to permit work, Smallfoot said that land would have to be reviewed the following year in accordance to policy.
Smallfoot says she enjoys her job and visiting with the land owners in the county. That visit is extremely important. Smallfoot said poor communication can lead to confusion and conflicts between land owners and the office.
In working through the parcels, Smallfoot said a lot of information that is valuable to making an assessment can only be gained by conversations with the land owner. Mass assesments don’t give county officials all of the information that is needed for a valuation.
When land owners visit with assessor’s office, there’s a better chance the evaluation will be fair when compared to other like properties in the county.

If a land owner knows that his residence on the property has damage to its basement, for instance, Smallfoot said sharing that information could very well effect the final evaluation of the land.
While land owners can’t be assured that the final value will the one they wanted, Smallfoot said the goal is to make sure they get the valuation right.