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Bates named Poweshiek County assessor

Dotty Bates, a 27-year veteran of the assessor's office, will take over Jan. 1 for Margaret Hutchinson who retired Dec. 30.

By ROXANNE DASS

assessors
Margaret Hutchison and Dotty Bates

Dotty Bates never expected to become a county assessor when she first moved to Iowa many years ago. But, as usual, life had a different plan.

Bates will officially start as the new Poweshiek County Assessor on Friday, Jan. 1, after current assessor Margaret Hutchinson steps down on Dec. 30. But Bates said before she started working in the assessor’s office 27 years ago, she had all intentions of becoming a nurse.

She moved from California to go to nursing school, but according to Bates, she fell in love with a farmer and the job in the office opened up.

“When you live in a small town and a job opens up, you take it,” she said. And she has never regretted taking the job as assistant to the assessor in 1982.

“It was such a good fit being in town and working,” she said. When she began her job in the assessor’s office, she worked on several revaluations of all classes of property and listing and valuing new

construction.

Lately, Bates has been working with taxpayers around Lake Ponderosa and Holiday Lake.

“There’s usually quite a bit of activity around the lake. Our values are at market value and there’s a pretty active market at the lakes,” she said. “I spend a lot of time studying the market and sales.”

As the years have gone by, Bates has continued to work to keep her name on the register of eligible candidates for the position of county assessor. In 1988 she was appointed as deputy assessor of Poweshiek County.

In 1993 she received her state license as a certified residential appraiser and in 2005 she received her designation as an Iowa certified assessor. Bates has also presented a case to the Property Assessment Appeal Board.

Bates had to defend Poweshiek County’s assessed value on a property appealed on the basis of equality. Bates was assigned to document and prepare all the evidence in support of the county’s assessed value. After Bates presented the case, the board ruled in the county’s favor.

While Bates has worked closely with Hutchinson over the years, she admits her new position will take some getting used to.

“When you work in a small office in a small county, everybody helps to do everything,” she said. “But there’s going to be a definite learning process.”

Bates said she will have to now handle commercial properties, processing of information, budgeting and the running of the office. Bates said she will also have to learn how to deal with unhappy taxpayers.

“Margaret has been a wonderful mentor to us all, but things will be very different when she is gone,” said Bates.

But Bates knows that Hutchinson has helped prepare her for the road ahead. “In order to do this job you have to be equitable,” she said. “Property taxes are not anything anybody enjoys, but it’s our job to make sure they are fair.”

And, if Bates ever has any questions, she knows she has someone close by to help.

“It’s reassuring that to know Margaret’s not that far away,” said Bates.

“Because you never know what will happen. Things are different every year, there’s no specific plan to follow.”

Bates has been married for 29 years and lives in Montezuma. She has two children, who live in Montezuma, and two grandchildren. Bates loves to spend time with her family and church. She also enjoys to travel.

“I love to travel, but I love to come home to a small town,” she said.

UPDATED December 31, 2009 11:32 AM

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