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Pfeifle training as director of equalization

by Del Bartels

Though not officially starting as the Haakon County Director of Equalization until July 1, Kevin Pfeifle began May 3 learning the ins-and-outs of the position from his predecessor, Rita Merrill.

Retiring as the director, Merrill will continue on as a temporary part-time deputy to assist Pfeifle as needed. Merrill's current five-year South Dakota Certified Appraiser Assessor license is valid until 2013. Pfeifle will be working under a temporary license, and must earn certification from the South Dakota Department of Revenue within one year.

Traci Radway is the deputy director of equalization. "Traci is helping train Kevin, too. And after I leave, she will still be the deputy," said Merrill.

"The easiest part of the job so far is my commute to work," said Pfeifle. "I like walking a block to work. I've lived in Haakon County most of my life, though I have had to drive to my jobs for 13 years, first to Pierre, then later to Wall. I've been in the computer industry for 30 years and wanted something else to do. These job requirements sounded interesting and what I would like doing to finish out my career."

Before this appraiser position, Pfeifle programmed computers for 15 years, then did analysis for the various departments of the state of South Dakota. He said that he hired on at Golden West, "basically to do Internet, router switches, to get everybody to go where they needed to go."

Pfeifle is learning to use the Marshal Swift grading manual. He is learning about soil surveys, transfers of land, and to read maps by using section-township-range. "He's getting familiar with the maps and all that. There's been too much rain to actually go out and do much of that. A lot of the Geographic Information System (GIS) we haven't even started as yet," said Merrill. "I think he's going to be fine."

The job consists of a continual, ongoing reassessment of the town of Philip and the rest of Haakon County. Property taxes are figured off of the valuations determined by the equalization office. Taxes are based off of 85 percent of those evaluations. Currently, there is a tax freeze in effect for existing property.

Pfeifle and Merrill will attend an equalization conference later this month in Mitchell. An annual assessor/appraiser school is scheduled for Pierre in September.

"I like it. I like seeing faces. It'll be fun to go see things," said Pfeifle. "I'm hoping to do a real good job for Haakon County and the people of Haakon County."