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Citizens take issue with appraiser's people skills

Commission to meet with petition organizers Monday

Staff writer

Petition organizers told Marion County Commissioners Monday that Appraiser Cindy Magill lacks the personal and communication skills necessary to perform her job.

The room was nearly full with petition supporters and appraiser’s office employees when Gary Diepenbrock, Jerry Siebert, and Lyle Leppke presented their petition and other documents to the commissioners.

County Attorney Susan Robson told the commission at the beginning of the session that the county appraiser is appointed by the county commission for a four-year term. If Magill is terminated, it must be approved by the state.

Diepenbrock said the issue wasn’t property taxes or valuations.

“We all understand we have taxes to pay,” Leppke said.

He said he had talked with the public and was told Magill was often discourteous.

The petition included signatures of 342 taxpayers, he said.

Siebert said Kansas requires a petition of 5 percent of registered voters to re-call an elected official, and Marion County has about 5,000 registered voters.

The petition would exceed that threshold, but Magill is an appointed official and isn’t subject to re-call, he said.

Betty May, of Marion, said public employees need to remember that they work for taxpayers.

“Attitude counts,” she said.

Minimum requirements for working as a county appraiser include personal and communications skills, Siebert said. He felt Magill misled the public in a letter to the editor sent to local newspapers.

He said he had no quarrel with other members of the appraiser’s office staff; they always have been helpful.

Siebert said he didn’t enter into the effort lightly.

“This is the first time I’ve appealed my taxes,” he said. “This position requires excellent communication skills.”

During the course of the appeal hearing, Siebert said, Magill told him to “shut up and listen.”

Steve Seifert, of Lost Springs, said he had no issue with Magill, but if 342 residents came forward and signed the petition,

Marion County has an issue one way or another.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said Magill has consistently performed well on state reviews. Diepenbrock said that doesn’t justify treating taxpayers poorly.

Holub said the issue needs to end soon. Commission will meet with the petition organizers at 1 p.m. Monday, after they have had a chance to read the material presented.

Magill was hired by the county in 2005. She said no employees heard her tell Siebert to “shut up,” and she doesn’t remember saying that.

She said it is very difficult to make everyone happy as an appraiser, but she received a public relations award for her work in Johnson County.

Magill will meet with commissioners Friday to address any questions they have after reading the material submitted by petition organizers.

Last modified Oct. 29, 2009

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