Congratulations to our Public Sector Champions!

2018 Public Champion Awards

The Public Sector Champion Awards recognize individuals that have achieved excellence in planning, leadership, service, and crisis management. This year’s prestigious award winners hail from the Eastern seaboard to the Pacific coast — and set the bar high.

Meet our 2018 Winners:

Excellence in Business Process Transformation

Steve Holthaus, Land Records Coordinator & Tax Systems Supervisor, Stearns County, MN

Thanks to Steve Holthaus, Stearns County, MN, is leveraging technology to allow for collaboration between the Assessor, Auditor-Treasurer, GIS, and Environmental Services departments. All departments have access to the data they need without duplication of efforts and are paperless. A process Steve was instrumental in bringing to reality is a nightly export of parcel and transaction data that allows the different offices to view parcel details, transfers, permits, subdivisions, tax adjustments, and GIS mapping from a parcel view.


Laurie Thomas, Chief Deputy Treasurer, Kootenai County, ID

Laurie Thomas, Chief Deputy Treasurer for Kootenai County, Idaho is a model of excellence in planning, leadership, and service. Over the past 10 years, Laurie has led efforts to integrate property appraisal and tax software systems in Kootenai County, and the results have been remarkable. Improving the county’s technological capabilities was the first step, followed by an overhaul of procedures and processes designed to meet the needs of a growing region where the tax base is constantly shifting. Now, virtually every aspect of the county’s property-tax administration process works more efficiently, and the dividends extend to every public service in the region — from police and fire protection to schools, parks, utilities, and emergency services.


Excellence in Office Leadership

Adrian Campa, Business Process Manager, Riverside County, CA

Over the past eight and half years, Adrian Campa has demonstrated exemplary leadership skills as a member of the County of Riverside Enterprise Solutions for property Taxation (CREST) Team. Adrian’s knowledge of California statutes and business practices, coupled with his ability to work with product developers, has been crucial to Thomson Reuters ability to demonstrate proof of concept for all of California. Adrian has shared his expertise on several occasions to demonstrate Aumentum to other California counties. His leadership and dedication to the Riverside project has been paramount to the success of the project to date.


Excellence in Community Service

Eileen Slater, Deputy Tax Collector, Yamhill County, OR

Eileen Slater is passionate about property taxes and helping her community understand them. Eileen hosts a series of town hall meetings on numerous tax programs. She oversees the county’s tax exemptions group and the special assessment group — answering questions for farm deferral, forest deferral, property tax abatements, veteran exemptions, senior citizen exemptions, and exemptions for disabled seniors.

Through the town hall meetings, as well as talking one-on-one with county residents and tax payers, Eileen is invaluable in educating the people of Yamhill County, Oregon — and has done so for nearly three decades.


Office Holder of the Year

Rick Jeffrey, Auditor, Erie County, OH

When Rick Jeffrey was elected as Erie County, Ohio’s auditor in 2010, the county’s finances had been severely hit by the Great Recession and several manufacturers had closed plants that had been employing people in the area for decades. Rick Jeffrey helped lead a team of civic leaders in an ambitious effort to revitalize the area through a series of private/public partnerships and business arrangements designed to diversify and rebuild the area’s economy. The grand vision involved a transition from manufacturing to tourism and hospitality, using the Cedar Point amusement park — located in the county’s largest city, Sandusky — as both a partner and catalyst for this dramatic change.

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Excellence in Crisis Management

Heidi Easley, County Clerk, Victoria County, TX

In August of 2017, Victoria County took a direct hit from Hurricane Harvey, which dumped more than a foot of rain in the area, causing widespread flooding and property damage. In the aftermath, the Victoria County Clerk’s office, headed by Heidi Easley, had to work fast to accommodate the immediate demand for public records, particularly certified property deeds for those applying for emergency loans and FEMA assistance. A years-long effort to digitize Victoria County’s public records resulted in a smooth, orderly, efficient response to record requests despite the spike in volume and urgent need for speed.

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Excellence in Public Outreach

Chester Carr, Lead Sr. Technical Analyst, Arlington County, VA

Chester Carr knows how to put on a good show. For the second time, Arlington County, VA hosted participants from the World Bank Annual Land & Poverty for a one-day field trip to learn about local government and how to better understand the flow of government processes from the recording of deeds to billing taxpayers and collection. This year’s group consisted of 80 participants from 15 different countries. Chester coordinated speakers from different departments such as recorder of deed, economic development, GIS, assessor office, information technology, and city treasurer, giving participants valuable knowledge and insight on of how an American County government works.

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2017 Public Sector Champion Awards

The Public Sector Champion Awards recognize individuals and jurisdictions that have achieved excellence in planning, leadership, and service. This year’s prestigious award winners hailed from Skamania County, WA to Pinellas County, FL — and set the bar high.

Meet our 2017 Winners:

Excellence in Business Process Transformation Award

Brett Waschsmith, Treasurer, Tax Collector, Director of Assessment Taxation – Kittitas County, Washington

Brett Waschsmith and his efficient team of eight are impressive. When Waschsmith was elected in 2014, the Kittitas County office managed $70 million dollars that generated $66,000 in interest. In three short years later, they’ve managed to reinvent the way they invest residual money and now oversee a $100 million portfolio on track to earn $1 million in interest. Waschsmith chalks it up to “making sure the tax payers are getting the best customer service and best professional services” they deserve.


Excellence in Office Leadership Award

Jeff Law, Executive Director and Chief Appraiser, Tarrant Appraisal District – Tarrant County, Texas

When Tarrant Appraisal District set out to replace its 30-year-old COBOL mainframe system with up-to-date software tools, executive director and chief appraiser Jeff Law and his team of 200 knew there would be challenges along the way. But they also knew that new software would help them keep pace with the 1.7 million accounts they oversee from 73 jurisdictions and taxing units—accounts that total more than $200 billion in valuations. Just as importantly, they knew the software conversion would help them in other ways, too. “We strive to provide excellent customer service to taxpayers,” Law says. “Trying to make sure they understand fully how the system works is one of our biggest challenges.”


Erin Moore, Chief Deputy Appraiser – Pinellas County, Florida

The second smallest county in Florida, also happens to be the most densely populated county—including a sizeable senior population. Chief deputy appraiser Erin Moore and her team are honored to have streamlined the annual property tax exemption application process for low-income seniors in Pinella County. “They were often unsure how to fill out the forms, so many of them were just letting their exemptions lapse out of not understanding the process,” Moore says. “Now an automatic renewal system and audit program have helped a very vulnerable segment of our population.”


Excellence in Community Service Award

Mike Cowles, Assessor, Tax Collector and Director of Assessment Taxation – Lane County, Oregon

Public service is in Mike Cowles’ DNA. His father was an appraiser, and now Mike is proud to carry on the tradition as the assessor and tax collector for Lane County, Oregon. He finds helping fellow residents very rewarding, and often calls them after hours or on the weekends when its more convenient for them. He says doing so has a way of disarming people who typically aren’t in a “good mood” when they’re talking about taxes. But by going the extra mile to reach out to people, Cowles and his fellow residents can have the kind of normal conversations that enhance understanding and trust.


Office Holder of the Year Award

Gabriel Spencer, Assessor – Skamania County, Washington

Working in the small, but tight-knit community of Skamania County, assessor Gabe Spencer understands the ebb and flow of communities. “There’s good times and bad times, and a community that is in it together is going to survive the tough times,” he says. “Here, we’ve got struggles with the tax base. We’ve got struggles with the federal government and the way they maintain the forests, but as a community we’re always here for each other. We’re excited to make this a better place.” Championing the reopening of the community pool and the transformation of an abandoned mill into a new development that will create jobs are just two of Spencer’s latest passion projects.

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Jurisdiction of the Year Award

Gus Martinez, Assessor – Santa Fe County, New Mexico

Santa Fe County’s smart use of live chat and social media has earned it huge dividends—not only in greater efficiency, but in public trust, too. Using live online chats—about 35 per day and 30,000 over the last three years—staffers guide taxpayers one-on-one through the county website. Doing so has not only increased public understanding, but reduced phone calls and office walk-ins as well. “If you look at our social media pages and the reviews we get, you’ll see we have a 4.9-star review out of 5,” says department administrator Daniel Fresquez. “That’s amazing for a government agency.”

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2016 Public Sector Champion Awards

The Public Sector Champion Awards recognize individuals and jurisdictions that have achieved excellence in planning, leadership, and service. This year’s prestigious award winners hailed from St. Charles County, Missouri, to Sarasota County, Florida—and set the bar high.

Meet our 2016 Winners:

Excellence in Business Process Transformation Award

Bob Henriquez, Property Appraiser – Hillsborough County, Forida

Henriquez led an 18-month implementation of a cutting-edge desktop appraisal software system that has already saved taxpayers of the 520,000 properties in the county thousands of dollars in assessment and property review costs, while potentially adding millions of dollars in revenue for the county in the coming years.

Excellence in Office Leadership Award

Barbara Ford-Coates, Tax Collector – Sarasota County, Florida

Ford-Coates has served for 40 years in county government, 30 of them as the Sarasota County tax collector, and is leading the implementation of the county’s Aumentum project to eliminate duplications, ultimately making the taxpaying process more efficient.

Barbara Ford-Coates

Excellence in Constituent Service Award

Mike Kovack, Auditor – Medina County Ohio

With an an 81 percent approval rating on a recent survey of governmental operations, Kovack makes consistent communication with his 14,000 constituents a priority with weekly email updates and management of the county’s website that sees more than 1,000,000 hits annually.

Office Holder of the Year Award

Michelle McBride, Collector of Revenue – St. Charles County, Missouri

While leading the revenue collection for 60 jurisdictions among 374,000 citizens, McBride spearheaded a county ordinance that allowed taxpayers to make either partial payments or advanced payments on future bills, effectively providing a county-run escrow account service that made staying current on tax bills more manageable for its citizens.

Michelle McBride

Jurisdiction of the Year Award

Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica

Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica Despite the island behind devastated by Tropical Storm Erika in the summer of 2015, the government transferred five departments within the island nation of Dominica from an outdated, paper system to their new, innovative Unified Land Information System (ULIS), ensuring a safer, more efficient and secure assessment experience.

Jermaine Jewel Jean-Pierre

2015 Public Sector Champion Awards

The Public Sector Champion Awards recognize individuals and jurisdictions that have achieved excellence in planning, leadership, and service. This year’s prestigious award winners hailed from Okanogan County, Washington to Beaufort County, South Carolina—and set the bar high.

Meet our 2015 Winners:

Excellence in Business Process Transformation Award

Tajel Shah, Deputy Director – Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, City and County of San Francisco, California

Ms. Shah knew that simply telling her team they needed to change their system and simplify business processes wouldn’t do it. So before the RFP was released, she gathered the staff to help them understand why they needed to change.

Meeting with the staff helped her identify potential leaders in her organization that could serve as project ambassadors and subject matter experts to lead this transformation and train their colleagues.

She and her team of 11 Aumentum SMEs have trained 130 employees and even developed an in-house user manual. Change begins with people, and they proved instrumental in adopting a system that had never previously been used for business taxes before.

Robin Ward, Assessor – Hamilton County, Indiana

The name of the game for government officials sometimes boils down to the need for speed—paired with accuracy, of course. Hamilton County recognized the need to streamline managing administrative data in the office by integrating their tax and billing system data. Previously, it took several days of time-consuming manual processes, delaying the taxpayers’ review time for updated administrative data.

Hamilton County Assessor Robin Ward led the integration of the ProVal solution in her office, subsequently streamlining the flow of information from the assessor’s office to the public. Now administrative entry takes less than a day. By freeing up staff and resources, quickly resolving issues, and bringing accurate values to the tax and billing system, she and her team can confidently say they serve the public better.

Tajel Shah

Robin Ward

Excellence in Office Leadership Award

Jill Amery, Assessor/Tax Collector – Wasco County, Oregon

Jill Amery came into the position with a steep learning curve, while navigating heavy scrutiny from the outside.

But Jill surpassed the challenges that faced her. She harnessed her knowledge of the Oregon business process, quickly learned county complexities, and successfully managed cross-functional interactions while fostering interdepartmental collaboration. She regularly engaged with stakeholders, built strong relationships with peers, and, in the words of her colleague, “weathered it all with grace and poise.” By June 2015 she integrated the taxation and general ledger functions, working to bring to fruition the late incumbent’s goal of better taxpayer experience and trust.

For this reason, one of the Excellence in Office Leadership award goes to Jill Amery, Assessor and Tax Collector of Wasco County, Oregon.

Brent Shelton, Tax System Director, Division of Finance – Sedgwick County, Kansas

Tax System Director of Sedgwick County Brent Shelton works according to the saying: “High tide raises all ships.” He knows when one department improves, so does everybody. His ability to see the whole picture along with his analytical nature has been a boon to his office. His colleagues say his best work is done when he sees a problem that can only be handled through various departments working together.

Thanks to Brent helping with implementing a new tax system, he has:

  • Decreased the number of issues during tax roll
  • Worked with an outside audit firm to confirm correct billing processes and county compliance
  • Established a website for citizens to see where their tax dollars are spent, pulling information from the Clerk, Treasurer and Appraiser offices.

And these are only a few of his accomplishments. Now we can add a Public Sector Champion Award to the list.

Jill Amery

Brent Shelton

Excellence in Constituent Service Award

Casey Kaul, Recording/Licensing Supervisor, Auditor’s Office – Pierce County, Washington

It began with their Aumentum recording system upgrade in 2011. We can all say it’s always a “fun” process to introduce a new system to your county. Who doesn’t love the phone ringing off the hook?

But Pierce County knew their best learning experiences came from these complaints and decided to launch another upgrade. To make this transition smoother, a team including Recording and Licensing Supervisor Casey Kaul launched two years of system testing and feedback.

Even today they continue to send out surveys, identify user issues, and provide tips and tricks to ensure the best possible user experience. Now the Auditor’s office receives 30 fewer calls per week, has 18 percent higher online usage of the website and even receives public accolades about the upgrade.

Robert Maki, Chief Information Officer – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Jess Richards, Director, Lands and Minerals Division – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

What do you think of when you imagine Minnesota? Chances are, it’s land…a whole lot of land. And you’d be right.

Truth is, Minnesota has a unique land management situation. More than 10 percent of its surface estate and 25 percent of the mineral estate are state owned and administered. 5.5. million of the total 55 million acres are state forests, parks and the like.

In the words of a Department of Natural Resources official, the staggering amount of state-owned properties make it “hard to understand what we own.”

The DNR decided to deploy the estates edition of Aumentum Registry, which would be the first U.S. deployment of the solution. With it they would better manage estate data, increase public trust and transparent information, and promote responsible investment to enhance revenue generation and the protection of natural resources.

Since then they’ve done just that—connecting every parcel with deeds and ownership and seeing fewer manual errors. The new LRS system has been called a “breath of fresh air” giving officials a “better sense of every parcel.” Now they process transactions in half the amount of time they used to, from 6-8 weeks down to two or even one week. System users have grown from 50 to over 800 today.

Casey Kaul

Office Holder of the Year Award

Even though Beaufort County implemented Aumentum in 2008, staff morale was at an all-time low after a fraud scandal and little-to-no system buy-in. They still operated in a “paper world.”

When Maria Walls arrived, she decided she wanted to know everything Aumentum was capable of, get her office on board with it, and catapult the office to its peak.

Since then Maria has accomplished an incredible amount. She spearheaded a new interactive website to show where taxpayer dollars are being spent. She even jumps in as a teller to collect payments when needed.

Contrast 2008 with today. The office is a thriving, efficient and positive place. Any employee can access documents via a simple search, allowing them to assist any taxpayer, anytime. The office is very active on Aumentum and has transitioned to a clean, paperless existence. Each employee is on their own personalized training plan. Overall they have reduced the budget by 24 percent and saved 598,000 taxpayer dollars, reduced staff from 27 to 24, while providing more and better public services at the same time. With Maria’s drive and dedication to constant improvement, we know this is only the beginning

Maria Walls

Jurisdiction of the Year Award

Okanogan County, Washington, suffered the largest wildfire in state history in July 2014. They wasted no time jumping into action to make the lives of their constituents just a little easier after they lost everything. Appraisers immediately assessed the damage on the 4,800 affected parcels of real estate. Within a week they quickly drafted an initial damage assessment spreadsheet so those who lost everything could be served sooner. Okanogan County also developed a process to adjust land value and processed 3,800 tax roll corrections by early October. They ensured that impacted citizens wouldn’t have to pay for anything they might’ve lost in the fire.

Scott Furman

2014 Public Sector Champion Awards

Our inaugural Public Sector Champion Awards was a hit. These prestigious award winners hailed from Canyon County, Idaho to Cape Town, South Africa—and set the bar high.

Meet our 2014 Winners:

Excellence in Business Process Transformation Award

Matt Archer, Deputy Director — Yankton County, South Dakota
Photo of Matt Archer being presented an award
Matt Archer

Matt Archer, Deputy Director of the Yankton County, South Dakota Department of Equalization is committed to efficiency. His hands-on approach to implementing his office’s new technology has saved his office thousands of dollars. He took it upon himself to help train users in the ProVal technology and facilitate the conversion. Many South Dakota governmental offices lack IT specialists, so Matt has gone above and beyond in this way to provide those services and troubleshoot where he can. If there was a job that needed filling, he was there. It made a difference: Yankton County went from a high of 252 appeals in 2008 to 58 in 2014.

Jim McLean, Tax Assessor in Orangeburg County, SC

Jim McLean, is considered a CAMA authority in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, where he serves as Tax Assessor. He is one of Aumentum’s longest clients and provides counsel to other counties in the state. That’s why one of the running gags around South Carolina county offices is, “Did you ask Jim?” During legislative change in South Carolina, Jim was a huge help to his own agency, other counties, and even those who mandated the new requirements. His insight is deeply valued by his peers and employees, and he continuously goes above and beyond.

Elizabeth Stair: CEO, National Land Agency, Jamaica
Photo of Elizabeth Stair being presented an award
Elizabeth Stair

In the Caribbean, and Jamaica especially, pen and paper still has a stubborn mark on the status quo. That didn’t stop Elizabeth Stair, the CEO of the National Land Agency from deciding to go digital. Partnered with Aumentum Registry, Ms. Stair and her team has fully automated the land management processes. But Ms. Stair took it a step further: by implementing a digital signature via smart card to legitimize land title certificates. This digital authorization sped up a land registration process that took weeks, to where it now only takes two days. This efficiency has improved the office culture, and the agency won the Prime Minister’s Trophy for best customer service entity. Most importantly, this has won the respect of the National Land Agency’s customers, who refer to the change as “amazing” and “remarkable.”

Excellence in Office Leadership Award

Photo of Marianne Matz being presented an award
Marianne Matz
Mariann Matz, Project Manager, Lead, Management Analyst for Clark County, Nevada

Mariann Matz of Clark County, NV, is a dependable and reliable force in the office. Paired with customCAMA and Aumentum, she delivers results — results much needed in her office.

Clark County had been hard hit by the real estate crash. The team needed to be able to keep up even though their staff was pared down — from 185 to 135 employees. She was instrumental in making this conversion happen. Throughout the solution’s implementation, she was the go-to girl for updates, answers, and positivity. In the end Aumentum and the new CAMA system facilitated the valuation of 730,000 parcels and 70,000 personal property accounts to be completed on time even with staff reductions. Today they boast top-notch efficiency.

Photo of Brian Loughrey being presented an award
Brian Loughrey
Brian Loughrey — Administrative Director at Property Appraiser’s Office in Sarasota County, Florida

Creativity, innovation, character, and commitment to excellence are the qualities Brian Loughrey, Administrative Director in the Property Appraiser’s office in Sarasota County, FL, looks for in in others and holds himself accountable to. These traits have helped the Sarasota Property Appraiser’s Office flourish. The tax roll team went from six members to two, there was a ten-percent reduction in value challenge petitions, and across the organization he has developed a culture that embraces the business transformation: streamlined communication among agencies and the public, consolidated data, and overall process efficiency.

Excellence in Constituent Service Award

Debbie Stevens, Chief Deputy Treasurer in Warrick, Indiana
Photo of Debbie Stevens being presented an award
Debbie Stevens

Oftentimes government is about doing more with fewer resources. This was particularly true for our first winner in the Excellence in Constituent Service category, Debbie Stevens, the Chief Deputy Treasurer in Warrick, IN. County cutbacks had chopped a quarter of her staff, and the remainder were new with less than a year of experience. On top of all of that, spring tax season was upon them.

Debbie reacted quickly…and quickly realized she couldn’t stick with tradition. It began with change in their digital remittance system and convincing a skeptical staff — and the rest was history. All payments were entered in MVPTax smoothly and seamlessly. All thanks to Debbie Stevens and her innovative ideas for handling the workload and being mindful of the time and patience of taxpayers. She was able to see the big picture to find the right solution to solve seemingly unmanageable problems.

Anne Gannon, Tax Collector in Palm Beach County, Florida

Photo of Anne Gannon being presented an award
Anne Gannon

97% of the organization’s surveys rated Palm Beach’s Tax Collection organization service levels as good or better. 85% rate them as excellent. This is the handiwork of Anne Gannon, Tax Collector in Palm Beach, FL, whose mantras are “the ungovernment experience” and “serving you.” She demonstrates service to people to everyone she encounters at work. Employees are recognized for their contributions. Her community outreach programs go above and beyond, educating constituents on topics such as first-time driver education.

Michael Schultz, Assessor in LaPorte County, Indiana
Photo of Michael Shultz being presented an award
Michael Shultz

Mike Schultz, Assessor in LaPorte County, IN, inherited a unique situation. After a taxpayer filed a lawsuit, the state put assessments on hold in 2007. The backlog of transfers, splits, and appeals seemed unreal. As daunting as it was, Michael Schultz knew they had to remedy this situation immediately. With the help of ProVal he was able to log and track appeals. He demonstrated what it is to go above and beyond by making himself available to his constituents — even after agency hours. Laporte County has since dropped the number of property assessment appeals by 80%.

Office Holder of the Year Award

Assessor Gene Kuehn, Canyon County, Idaho
Photo of Gene Kuehn being presented an award
Gene Kuehn

Optimistic. Diehard Boise State fan. Inclusive. Avid golfer, hunter, and rugby player. Unselfish. Hands-on Leader. Those are just a few of the words that come to min. regarding our Office Holder of the Year Award Winner, Canyon County, ID Assessor Gene Kuehn. He has successfully transformed his office through a variety of means:

  • He hosts “meetings of the mind” to include and engage his team in problem solving.
  • He nurtures an open culture where his coworkers feel free to ask questions and make suggestions.
  • Perhaps the most notable is his instrumental role in the successful conversion of Aumentum 8.4 into Aumentum 8.06 for not only his own county, but most Idaho jurisdictions as well.

During this process he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. After personally performing much of the testing for this conversion, he ensured that the solution was tailored to county’s needs and maintained progress reports for other counties on top of that. Previously hand-calculated figures for annexations, exemptions, and supplemental values became automated, accurate, and efficient, thanks to Gene’s hard work to implement the Aumentum solution.

Jurisdiction of the Year Award

Jurisdiction of the Year — City of Cape Town, South Africa

It’s one of the most diverse cities in the country, the second most populous, and the largest in area. Even with those challenges, the jurisdiction of Cape Town, South Africa manages to operate consistently and transparently with a self-sufficient workflow thanks in part to its Thomson Reuters CAMA solution. Cape Town also proves to be a pioneer in innovation Objection resolution, which used to take a minimum of five months, but now constituents can have their objections resolved that very day. In nine years, the City added 50% more properties to the tax roll, and over the past twelve years, Cape Town’s innovations and investments have delivered improved, interactive, and responsive service delivery to the city’s taxpayers. Because of all this, the city of Cape Town, South Africa is being named the Public Sector Champion Awards Jurisdiction of the Year.