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Retiring assessor Dear recommends successor

Endorses assistant Spears ‘without hesitation’
By: Gus Thomson Gold Country News Service
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Bruce Dear, Placer County’s chief assessor for the past 18 years and Rocklin resident, said he wasn’t expecting to retire halfway through his fifth, four-year term. But health issues he would only go so far to describe as “significant” will see him leave his post Oct. 17, opening up the elected position for contenders and possible selection by the Board of Supervisors of Assistant Assessor Kristen Spears. Dear wrote to the board, county CEO Tom Miller and County Counsel Anthony La Bouff Aug. 21 to apprise them of his retirement plans. Board Chairman Jim Holmes said last Monday that the board has yet to take action and because the position is elective, all discussions will be at meetings open to the public. Dear, 59, said Monday that Spears could step into the assessor’s role and do an “equal or better job.” “I can recommend her without hesitation,” Dear said. “She has good organizational skills, great people skills and is customer-service oriented.” Under the current county charter, the board could appoint a successor or hold a special election. Dear himself won a three-candidate election to take office 18 years ago, moving from the state Assessor’s Office, after previous assessor Lee Daniels and the assistant assessor both retired, making no recommendations for a successor. Dear has since seen a near-doubling in Placer County population and properties, with regular double-digit increases in assessed values up until the past two years. Dear said he’s stepping away from the assessor’s job but will stay active in the community. He leaves an office with about 75 current employees and a troubled economic climate that has resulted in about 40,000 properties receiving lower assessed valuations this year. Dear was never challenged in an election since winning the initial election in 1990. He still has about two years left in the current term. Spears, who has served as assistant assessor for the past four years, is a Foresthill resident. She has a business administration degree, as well as advanced appraisal and auditor-appraiser certification. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Spears said. Dear declined to discuss details of the health issues that resulted in his decision to retire. In his letter to the board, he said he’s proud to leave an excellent staff and a superb leader in Spears. “In this increasingly complex property assessment business, I am honored to have served the citizens of Placer County for over 17 years,” he said. “It is my good fortune to have experienced a challenging and productive career for almost 40 years. In dealing with significant health issues this past year, I now realize that it is time for me to retire.” According to the county Personnel Department, the top-end salary for county assessor is $154,000. The top end annual salary for assistant assessor is $133,000.