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For more than 20 years her role was recruiting people to run for office – but that all changed in 2006 for longtime political leader JoAnn Johnson.
“I felt it was time for me to step up and do what I had asked of others for so long. Assessor Jane Bates was term limiting out and with my financial background I felt the assessor vacancy was an area where I could contribute most,” Johnson said during an interview Thursday. “I also feel this office is very important to the community.”
Johnson and her six-person staff work in temporary quarters in modular suite C at Central Avenue and Oppenheimer Drive. Joaquin Valdez is chief deputy assessor.
“One of the best parts of being assessor is having the opportunity to work with such wonderful people. I’m very proud of the job they do,” she said. “I can’t tell you how often someone in the community tells me how well they were treated and commended the patience they were shown when they came to the office for help with property tax issues.”
Johnson also enjoys serving as assessor, she said, because it affords her the opportunity to interact with other county officials and officials across the state through the Association of Counties.
The county assessor is the elected official responsible for valuing all real and personal property for taxing authorities in the county. The position pays $2,500 per year.
“We don’t determine tax rates, we evaluate property,” Johnson said.
The office also develops and maintains all parcel information in the county and administers the granting of certain exemptions allowable by the New Mexico Property Tax Code, she said, and locates, identifies and values all taxable property in Los Alamos County in accordance with state laws.
This includes both real and personal property. Real property is generally defined as land and all things attached to the land. Residential land and improvements and all types of commercial land and improvements would be an example of real property, she said.
Personal property is basically all other property. Mobile homes, livestock and business personal property such as furniture, fixtures and equipment are examples of personal property.
Johnson’s office also prepares and certifies the assessment roll and individual property assessments in accordance with state laws.
“Our goal is to provide a fair and equitable assessment of the taxpayer’s real and personal property,” Johnson said. “The Assessor’s Office is low profile with the staff quietly doing their good work behind the scenes. We don’t typically come to people’s minds until November of each year when they receive their property tax bills.”
Johnson was born in Seymour, Ind. She and her husband Jim moved to New Mexico after he graduated from college and accepted a job at Sandia National Laboratories. Jim later accepted a position at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
He was as a Technical Staff Member, working for 28 years before his retirement in 1990. He died in 2001.
Johnson holds an accounting degree from Northern New Mexico College. She worked in finance at LANL for 15 years.
The couple raised two children. Their daughter, Jan Funkhouser, is a homemaker in Beaverton, Ore. She has a daughter Megan who is a sophomore at USC in Los Angeles. Her son Kevin is a high school senior in Beaverton.
The Johnson’s son, Mike, is a software designer for America Honda in Los Angeles. The Assessor’s office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For information, call 662-8030 or access www.losalamosnm.us.