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Crook County Assessor announces retirement

Tom Green, who was recently re-elected to another term, will finish his 40-year career on Dec. 31
Crook County Assessor Tom Green has spent the past 40 years working with taxes on a daily basis.
   He is getting tired, and has decided to retire.
   “I have been thinking about how many hunting seasons I have left,” the 65-year-old Green said. “When you get to that age, you don’t have that many, and I have some other things I want to do, so it seemed like a good time to go.”
   Green will conclude his career, 38 years of which he spent in Crook County, on Dec. 31. In his absence, the Crook County Court will appoint a new assessor that will serve out the final three years of his term.
   Fresh out of the Army, Green had not planned on a career involving taxes. In fact, he had no career plans at all.
   “I was working for my dad — he had a garbage collection service over in Heppner,” he said. “I was quite happy living at home, and my mom fixed three square meals, and I’d go out and hang with my friends when I wasn’t working or whatever.”
   Green discovered that his mom had other plans — “She decided that (lifestyle) wasn’t really in my best long-term interests” — and encouraged him to talk to the Morrow County appraiser for a job.
   “It sounded like a good fit — kind of analytical work, but doing a lot of it outside, which sounded good to me,” he said.
   Green began his tax assessor career in Klamath County where he spent two years before moving on to Crook County where he would stay until his retirement. During the past four decades, he has seen the tax world change, requiring him to adapt.
   “The three biggest changes in the history of the property tax system happened during my tenure,” Green said. “First was computerization. It made a huge difference. It didn’t cut down on our work, but it made us able to provide a whole lot more information than folks had ever had before.”
   The other major changes came courtesy of Oregon voters with Measure 50 and Measure 5, which both affected property tax assessment. Measure 5, passed in 1990, placed a limit on property taxes on real estate. Seven years later, voters approved Measure 50, which established a base point for property tax value on a home and increased it 3 percent annually.
   “They were disruptive,” Green said. “It required quite a lot for us to meet those changes.”
   On the surface, the tax assessor profession comes across as analytical, with the focus primarily on numbers and complex codes and regulations. Green would agree, but insists there is more to it than the numbers.
   “To survive in this business, you have to have a personality that is empathetic and sympathetic with people,” he said, “but at the same time, a clearer perspective of what property tax is — why we have it, why it is a good thing.”
   Green explained that tax districts were created to help people solve things corporately that they could not solve themselves.
   When he retires, Green will begin that phase of his life with no major plans. His wife will work for a couple more years, and he plans to spruce up the home in the meantime. In between, he would like to spend some time outdoors, hunting and hiking in the hills.
   Until that final day comes, Green is keeping his head down and plugging along.
   “People ask me if I have a short-timer’s calendar,” he said. “When I was in the service, I definitely had it . . . but here, I haven’t let myself think about it too much.”