New tax assessor named

Argen Duncan

The Roosevelt County Commission appointed Evelyn Ledbetter of Z-7 Farms Inc. as county assessor Thursday, but not everyone is happy with the decision.

The commission voted unanimously on the matter during a special session at the Roosevelt County Courthouse. County Assessor Tex Belcher, who was re-elected in 2010, is retiring May 31, and Ledbetter is to complete his term, which runs through 2014.

Commission Chairman David Sanders said an “awesome” group of candidates had interviewed for the position.

“We put in some time making this decision,” he said, adding commissioners believed they knew which candidate would be best for the county.

Commissioner Bill Cathey said the choice was hard.

“After everything was considered, we made the decision on what we thought would be best,” he said.

The commissioners declined further comment.

Several people who attended the meeting expressed discontent with the appointment.

Marla Foster of Eastern Sunbelt Real Estate said she felt Royene Tivis, the chief deputy county assessor, had a lot to offer the office with her 23 years of experience and should have been appointed as assessor.

“She plays a vital role for our jobs as Realtors,” Foster said.

Foster said she didn’t know what Ledbetter’s qualifications were, and she thought the decision was made behind closed doors. She also questioned why Kenner Carrasco, who has worked in the assessor’s office, wasn’t appointed if Tivis wasn’t.

Nancy Gentry, also of Eastern Sunbelt Real Estate, said elected officials should poll constituents in their districts to see who they want appointed.

Belcher said he was surprised Tivis wasn’t chosen as his replacement.

“I’m very disappointed the commissioners didn’t use common sense and appoint someone with experience versus someone with zero experience,” he said, adding he didn’t think the decision was fair to county citizens.

Ledbetter, a lifelong county resident, said she has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Eastern New Mexico University. She worked as a bookkeeper in college, served as accountant for the Roosevelt County Telephone Cooperative for almost seven years and has been an accountant at Roosevelt General Hospital since 2002.

Ledbetter said she’s had to adapt to changes in health care accounting, implementing new software and procedures at RGH. She said similar practices are being considered in the county assessor’s office and she can help update the office to avoid duplication of work and expenses.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity,” Ledbetter said. “Something in public service has interested me for a long time.”

Ledbetter is exploring possibilities for who will become the chief deputy assessor and hopes to have something in place when she takes office June 1, she said.

As for her plans, Ledbetter said she wants to get into the routine of the office, receive training and meet with people including her staff and commissioners about needs. She also intends to update the assessor’s office, interact with other county assessors and be involved with legislation.

Belcher is in his fifth year as assessor and served as deputy assessor for eight years before that. He said he was retiring because of “age and personal reasons.”

“I love the work we do in this office, and I have enjoyed citizens coming in and helping them,” Belcher said.

In his retirement, Belcher plans to spend time at his property in the southern part of Roosevelt County and pursue other interests.

“I will have plenty to do,” he said.