Washington County assessor anounces for re-election

Posted: February 6, 2018 at 1 a.m.

Russell Hill
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Russell Hill

FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington County Assessor Russell Hill will seek a third term, he said.

What does the Assessor do?

The Assessor’s Office determines the market value of all property in Washington County and maintains property records.

Source: Washington County Assessor’s Office

"I love my job," Hill said. "I take it very seriously, and I've worked very hard to help make sure we are serving the people the way they need to be served and expect to be served."

Hill, a Republican, was elected assessor in 2014 and won re-election over a Democratic challenger in 2016.

No one has yet announced plans to run against Hill. The candidate filing period is from noon Feb. 22 to noon March 1. The primary election is May 22.

The Assessor's Office discovers, lists and values real estate, business and personal property. Those values are used to calculate taxes used by the collector. The assessor is also the official mapmaker of all county parcels, Hill said.

Hill oversees a $4.4 million budget and about 34 employees, according to the budget.

Hill earns $103,531 based partly on state law and his experience.

Hill, 45, was born in Fayetteville and attended schools in Fayetteville, Farmington and Springdale. He has been married to his wife Melanie for five years. Together, the couple has five children ages 11 to 18.

The family has a farm in the Brentwood community.

During Hill's tenure, the Assessor's Office opened a branch inside the state Office of Motor Vehicles in Fayetteville. The branch office has become so popular officials are considering moving to a larger building or adding on, Hill said.

The Assessor's Office also started daily updates to records via the office's website. Those used to be done only weekly, Hill said. Last year, Hill joined a pilot program to allow real-time map data sharing.

The two moves make information more readily available.

"As your assessor, I strive daily to find ways to make this office run as effectively and efficiently as possible to keep Washington County on track and under budget," Hill said in email.

Hill also has tightened his budget.

He said he saved $500,000 by redoing contracts during his first term, he said. He started online assessments, which cut office postage costs by about $8,000 per year, he said.

Hill is a member of the Arkansas County Assessor's Association and is on the organizations legislative committee, he said.

Training for himself and staff is a priority, he said.

Hill has 200 hours of senior assessment administrator training with the State Assessment Training Program. The office has won multiple state-level awards connected to training and technology in the office, he said.

If re-elected, Hill plans to continue his focus on technology and training so his office is as accurate, reliable and available as possible. Information could be compiled and analyzed to help business and economic development, including recruitment of businesses by local chambers of commerce, Hill said.

Hill said he wants to improve technology to allow real-time record updates, not just daily. Making information immediately accessible, keeping costs as low as possible, maintaining customer service and increasing technology are key to running a smooth office, Hill said.

"We're going to continue to focus on utilizing technology to grow more efficient," Hill said.

NW News on 02/06/2018