Assessor's office investigates complaints

Numerous changes in the Jackson County Assessor's Office this year have strained employee-manager relations, causing the county's human resources department to investigate several employee complaints, Assessor Dan Ross said Monday.

Early last week officials held a meeting with employees to inform them that Ross had asked Human Resources Director Tony Keller and County Administrator Danny Jordan to help him run the office while the investigation continues.

"I felt it was necessary," said Ross, who is an elected official. "I wanted to have the best office and you do what you need to do. This is in the best interest of taxpayers and the best interest of people in the office."

County officials declined to discuss the nature of the complaints Monday. Commissioner C.W. Smith said they involved communication problems.

"I think it was an issue of communications, of poor communications or improper communications between staff and management," he said.

Smith said as far as he's aware the complaints don't involve any allegations of unethical behavior.

The complaints focus on problems between managers underneath Ross and their employees, Smith said.

In January, the department whittled down its managers from five to three, after one retired and another was fired, Ross said. Then in July the department cut the equivalent of 3.4 other positions, for budget reasons.

Those changes, combined with some others, have resulted in increased tension in the office of 35 workers, Ross said. Other workers are upset about some changes to their work duties, he said. Assessors, for example, are now required to make assessments on homes in the field, using laptops, instead of recording the data and entering it at their desks.

"We've been making a lot of changes and people don't like changes," said Ross, who has held his position for the 22 years.

Smith said it's unclear how long the human-resources investigation will take, but he expects officials will begin making changes in the office soon, perhaps rearranging employee and manager duties.

"It's all under review," he said, "but I'm sure there will be changes within the department."

Reach reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-776-4459 or email hguzik@mailtribune.com.

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