A longtime county assessor and real estate license holder are competing in November to lead the Assessor’s Officewhich sets property values in the county and imposes property taxes.
Frank Beltran is seeking election to a fifth term but faces competition from Republican challenger J. Angel Lewis, who has a background in real estate and is due to complete his law degree in November.
Beltran was born and raised in Pueblo and graduated from Pueblo South High School in 1976. He has worked in the Assessor’s Office for 42 years and has been the County Assessor for 16 years. He has been married to his wife, Maria, for 41 years and has two daughters and four grandchildren.
Lewis moved to Pueblo from Colorado Springs with her husband, Barry, in 2019 and has three children. She grew up in Iowa and got her real estate license several years ago and has over 15 years of experience as a real estate paralegal.
With just three weeks to go, Beltran and Angel Lewis recently met with the leader to discuss why they are running for office and how they would approach the role if elected.
Beltran touts experience, Lewis brings ‘fresh perspective’
Beltran said his experience is extensive. He has been a certified general appraiser in the state since 1992 and said he had more than 600 hours of training to maintain that license. He served for six years on the Board of Real Estate Appraisers and represented all appraisers in the state.
He also served as deputy chief under the former evaluator and said he worked in all departments of the office during his 42 years in office.
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“Office knowledge is what you need, and I think the more experience you have and the more time you spend in the office, the more qualified you are,” Beltran said.
Beltran also stressed the importance of his experience when asked about reassessments — he said his office’s knowledge of different sections of Pueblo for the 2021 reassessment helps the 2023 reassessment process, and so on. after.
“Being part of the process these years is the most valuable thing,” he said.
Lewis said her real estate background and legal background make her a strong candidate for the job. She said it was “time for a fresh perspective” and that she would make customer service a top priority. She added that her time as a store manager had given her experience in a supervisory role.
“I will provide every taxpayer with strong leadership, availability and transparency with a commitment to excellent customer service,” Lewis said.
Beltran said familiarity within the office is also important when considering the state of the real estate and business markets.
“There are more residential sales, but commercial sales are different because investors will come in and they’ll look at their revenue stream,” Beltran said. “Residential is watching the market, so you need to know what the revenue streams are doing in (real estate) commerce and what prices things are selling for,” Beltran said.
Both candidates said that clerical experience is also important, but turnover has been an issue. Beltran said competitive pay was a key factor in the high turnover, and he lost three evaluators to Denver because of it. He said he had five people currently taking courses to become appraisers, had restructured the office in the past and offered pay raises to employees.
Lewis said to retain employees, she would motivate and strengthen staff to maintain morale and try to work out a solution with Pueblo County commissioners if the salary is too low for licensed appraisers.
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Beltran said one of his top priorities in a subsequent term would be for the office to continue to place importance on the annual audit, which reviews all types of assets and involves statistical and procedural analysis. .
He said his office complied with the audit every year under his direction and that his knowledge of Pueblo’s neighborhoods and economic zones and the different types of construction were essential to the audit process.
“(Audit compliance) saves money,” Beltran said. “If there is a reassessment order placed on the county, it could cost the assessor’s office hundreds of thousands of dollars per classification. Who pays for this? The audience. We don’t want that. We want to save money. »
Lewis said the assessor’s office was overvaluing Pueblo areas and she would push the office to get as close to 95% as possible; she said the closer the appraiser’s office is to 100%, the greater the risk of overvaluation.
“I’m going to put the people of Pueblo in front of the auditors or the audit,” Lewis said. “People come first. Passing the audit should be a natural consequence of getting the numbers right.
Beltran said he wants the office to continue to keep up with available technology improvements. Another of his goals over the next four years would be to continue to stay on budget to save taxpayers’ money.
He said the office has been using a new computer system since March 2020 which was used for the 2021 re-evaluation. He expects it will take another re-evaluation for the office to find “all the little bugs that it contains,” but said his staff were excited to see how it could grow and perform better.
Lewis said another of his priorities would be to produce the lowest possible appraisals for Puebloans — within what is allowed by Colorado law — so properties aren’t overvalued.
Transparency tops the list for both candidates
Beltran said assessor records are available on the county’s website and his office is available and ready to answer questions from the public. He said he was willing to visit owners to discuss how their property was calculated and valued or talk to them over the phone.
He said he wants the Assessor’s website to continue to evolve so it can contain “more and more” information for Puebloans and citizens of other counties.
“I’m passionate about this place,” Beltran said. “It’s my second family. In my 42 years, I can count on my hands the days when I didn’t want to come to work. I love it. I like to talk and help people and explain the process.
Lewis said as an assessor, she would visit all areas of Pueblo County and meet with people to address any concerns or questions and welcome feedback. She said she wants to take a proactive approach to educating Puebloans about how property values are determined and what they can do when they receive their assessment notice.
She also said the office’s website needed to be more user-friendly and include discounts. So she would speak with office staff to get ideas on how to implement this.
Chief Reporter Josue Perez can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @josuepwrites.