La Plata County Assessor Craig Larson is headed into a stress-free election season, running unopposed for the fifth time in his career.
Now headed into his eighth term, Larson is responsible for running the county department that evaluates property to determine property taxes owed to local districts. He oversees 16 employees and a $1.2 million budget. He has run the department for 27 years.
Larson has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Fort Lewis College and a master’s in public administration from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Local school districts are particularly dependent on his department. About 50 percent of property-tax revenue in the county, which totaled about $67 million last year, goes to fund local school districts. The rest funds county and city budgets.
He is looking forward to the recent economic rebound boosting revenues. Natural-gas production may help drive the improvement, with 17 wells starting production in 2014, up from six new wells in 2013.
The 2013 and 2014 rebound in the real estate market also will improve revenue.
“The market so far has rebounded real well; the rural area is coming back but not as quickly,” Larson said.
He also plans to continue modernizing his department. So far,` he has signed up 300 people to receive property valuations by email and is hoping to continue expanding the program.
He said he is also looking into a new system to take better aerial photographs of property in the county. The new technology would take oblique images of the buildings to better assess them.
This story has been corrected since its original publication to correct the number of times Craig Larson has run unopposed.