New Cabell assessor sworn in
HUNTINGTON -- Cabell County's first new assessor in 16 years was publicly sworn in Wednesday morning by Circuit Judge Paul Farrell. Republican Irv Johnson, whose name was associated for years with Johnson Photo Plus, said he is looking forward to taking over an office held by Ottie Adkins since 1997.
"My message has always been about running an office that is fair and balanced," Johnson said from the courtroom at the Cabell County Courthouse. "Ottie ran a good office, and I'm happy to inherit his staff."
Johnson defeated Democrat Phyllis Kirtley Smith, 15,455 to 14,478 in the November general election.
He said he has several plans of action for the assessor's office, with his top priority being a better use of technology. He said as a former businessman -- the family sold the photo company last April -- he saw how online technology became necessary to remain competitive. He said the same thing should be true of a public service.
"There are lots of technology we can look at, especially online," he said, noting that he'd like to start by uploading forms that people can download. "If they don't have to come to the courthouse, they shouldn't have to."
He also has worked in real estate and is certified in property assessment through Allstate Insurance.
Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., was supposed to administer the public oath -- the official oath was taken last week -- but Tuesday's late-night vote in Washington on the fiscal cliff legislation changed her travel plans.
But that didn't stop the courtroom from being filled with county and city officials, Johnson's family and other supporters. Following a standing ovation when he finished the oath, Johnson thanked voters, saying he was "honored by the opportunity" to serve as assessor.
According to the West Virginia Association of Counties, the assessor is responsible for assessing the value of property for the calculation of taxes and developing and maintaining tax maps and property records for public use. The assessor must oversee the office's budget, maintain the public information website and coordinate the appraisals of thousands of pieces of property in a timely fashion.