Peggy Kanter

San Miguel County Assessor Peggy Kanter, pictured here with her husband, Ron, will retire next month after serving for 44 years. She was not only the longest-serving elected official in the county, but also the longest-serving assessor in the state of Colorado. (Courtesy photo)

Peggy Kanter is stepping down from her elected position as San Miguel County assessor, effective Feb. 5. She has held the post since she was first elected in 1978. At a special meeting Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners and county staff discussed the process they will employ to appoint her successor, who will complete the final year of Kanter’s term in office. In addition to the nuts and bolts of selecting her replacement, the board showered her with praise for her remarkable stint in office. Kanter was the longest-serving county elected official and the longest-serving assessor in Colorado. She was recognized as Colorado’s Assessor of the Year in 2007.

Calling the commissioner’s upcoming appointment to fill the post “big shoes to fill,” BOCC chair Kris Holstrom began with accolades for Kanter.

“Gosh, 40-plus years,” she said. “I know this is well deserved. It's a little bit of a shock that it's happening right now. But so much thanks for all the years of service. This is well deserved.”

Kanter will work until Feb. 5. She told the board her team at the assessor’s office is well positioned to move into the new year seamlessly.

“This is just such a smooth transition time, because it's not a reappraisal year,” she said. “I've got everything done. The workbooks done, reappraisal is done. It's just kind of a skating through year. I've worked with my staff, and I'm pretty caught up. I'll never be 100 percent caught up, but I'm available to them at any time.”

She also put in a good word for her deputy assessor, Sarah Enders, as an excellent candidate to take over her duties.

“She's been with me for several years, and I've pushed her through a lot of educational classes,” Kanter said. “She should have her appraiser license by March. She's had all the admin classes. She's succeeded in all of those classes. I think she has, what the division of property taxation told me at the conference, was that she has gotten an A on every single test, and they've never seen that before. So kudos to her. I've worked one on one with her for quite a bit and she's got good management skills. She'd be just great, and she knows that what she needs to do to get through this next year.”

Colorado county assessors, according to Ballotpedia, are responsible for creating a “property owners list” showing each property owner within the subdivision. The assessor values all taxable and exempt property according to the proper statute. The total value as determined by the assessor is certified to the county entities and the state. Each entity certifies a mill levy to the assessor and then it is the duty of the assessor to extend the tax on all property assessed and direct the county treasurer to collect the taxes. It is a role Kanter has enjoyed.

“It has been a great career to be involved in for 44 years,” she said in an email to the Daily Planet. “I have enjoyed my job and all the challenges that came with it. I enjoyed serving the San Miguel County public and having their support for all these years. I've seen lots of changes over the 44 years and it has kept me on my toes meeting all the deadlines and law changes.”

Kanter told the commissioners she’d always had an exit goal in mind — besides readying her staff for her departure — for some time.

“I thought, you know, I can work until I'm 73. Well, I'll be 73 next Sunday, so I hit that ball game right,” she said.

Now, she said, it’s “time to sit back and smell the roses.”

“It is time to retire, relax and move on. Ron and I bought a house in Montrose and are looking forward to being there 100 percent of the time and not living in two places.”

Once the board and staff settled on the logistics of their respective schedules and created a time Tuesday to interview potential successors, commissioner Hilary Cooper took time to recognize Kanter’s “tremendous amount of service,” and to praise Enders for her willingness to step into the top post.

“Thank you very much, Peggy, for all the service,” Cooper said. “I think you're leaving the office in a good place and also in really good hands. And thanks to Sarah for being there and for being part of that office for a while now and for staying in public service. It's obviously really important. We need good people in these roles at the county. So I really appreciate you and I understand that you're willing to step up into this position and very much appreciate that. I love the idea of upward mobility at the county.”

The county has posted the opening internally with an application deadline of Friday. The board will review applications it receives and meet to interview applicants received from within county ranks Tuesday. In the event the board declines to appoint any of those candidates, the position would then be advertised to the general public. Ideally, an appointment would be made before Feb. 5. Anyone appointed would, after fulfilling the balance of the term, have to run for election at the term’s conclusion, should they want to remain in the office’s top post.