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Private Sector Beckons Assessor

County Assessor-Recorder Gregory Smith is retiring after 25 years to take a “once in a lifetime” job in the private sector, he said Dec. 3.

His last day will be Dec. 31.

“I’ve thought about this a while, but it only came together recently, over Thanksgiving,” he said by phone. “The term was going to end anyway in two years, so that’s why I decided to go ahead.”

Smith declined to give specifics on his new job.

By law, Assistant Assessor David Butler assumes the duties of assessor until the Board of Supervisors fills the vacancy. Smith recommended that Butler be appointed to complete his term through 2010.

“I will be leaving the office in great shape and in extremely capable hands with my assistant David Butler who has been with the county’s assessor’s office for 32 years and knows every aspect of that operation as well as recorder/clerk functions.”

Smith was appointed assessor in 1983 to complete the unfinished term of his predecessor. He was elected assessor in 1984. He is the longest-serving assessor in county history.

In his resignation letter, Smith said he would be supporting Jeffrey Olson, the office’s division chief in charge of assessment services, in the 2010 election for the job.

Butler plans to make Olson his assistant to learn all aspects of the assessor’s operations, Smith said.

“Jeffrey is a dynamic individual who has the passion and desire to run for this office and will make an outstanding candidate and future assessor,” Smith wrote.

Smith said he will also resign from the San Diego Futures Foundation and the Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee.

“While I had every intention of serving out the remaining two years of my term, I have a tremendous opportunity in the private sector that I simply cannot pass up,” he wrote.

The assessor makes more than $167,000 annually and has a staff of 466.

The duties of the county clerk and recorder were added to that of the assessor’s in 1994, and Smith was elected to that new post.

During his 25 years, assessed property values grew from $55 billion in 1983 to about $409 billion this year.

In the last year, the assessor’s office has been inundated with thousands of reassessment applications on properties as median home prices have fallen by as much as a third since 2005.

, Ned Randolph


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