Equalization director introduced
CASSOPOLIS — Cass County commissioners Thursday night officially met new Equalization Director Tony Meyaard, Fennville’s mayor pro tem.
Meyaard, who started in May, said what used to be classified as Level IV is now known as an MMAO, or Michigan Master Assessing Officer. He is the county’s first in-house director in years since the position was outsourced to Manatron.
Meyaard, who will be shared with St. Joseph County, started at 17 as a GIS (Geographic Information System) intern for Allegan County.
“I did that for a few years before college,” he said. “Allegan County was mapping everything at that point by hand in the equalization department. They hired me to transfer everything to their digital system. I worked on that for a few years. An appraiser position opened and they hired me. I worked there until 2007, when the job opened with the City of Holland. The timing was impeccable because my wife was pregnant with our second child.”
The couple have three sons, ages 4-6, and made an offer on a house Thursday.
“I was with the City of Holland until three weeks ago,” Meyaard said. “I was their commercial property appraiser. I got my state certificate on Tuesday” as one of only four MMAOs in his class. “There was a point in the year-long process where I went four and a half months without taking a single day off. It’s pretty grueling. These are state-mandated courses. They’re not offered through a college, but administered by the State Tax Commission. I instruct the GIS course.”
“Obviously you knew the circumstances of Cass County equalization issues and you still came,” Vice Chair Bernie Williamson, R-Jefferson Township, said.
“It’s a little selfish,” he said. “It’s a challenge, which I enjoy. To be quite frank, if I can turn Cass County around into a good, viable, equalization department that’s respected,” it will reflect well on him. “When I started with Holland, that was a challenge. St. Joseph has its own challenges. Right now, all I’ve been doing is putting out fires. I’m really looking forward to getting them out” and begin moving forward.
Meyaard defended a contractual appraisal services agreement for up to $27,000 with independent contractor Jenny Moon, a township assessor in Berrien County and a former Manatron employee, through Dec. 27.
“I will be overseeing her work. We anticipate her being here three days a week. I don’t have enough time to post a job, wait for people to apply, interview them, hire them and train them for how we do things here. I don’t know how we do things here. She offers institutional knowledge nobody here has. That’s going to be important to my success, and my success is your success.”
County Administrator Louis Csokasy said he, Chairman Skip Dyes and Meyaard attended the state meeting May 28 where it was confirmed Cass County will not be factored.
“They were very appreciative of the proactive response” of the county reappraising industrial and commercial properties over the next two years, Csokasy said. “I suspect within a year we’ll be off their bad guy list and on their good guy list.”