Responsibilities change as Keith Larson moves up to county assessor
By Rhett Wilkinson
MANTI—After being the Sanpete County deputy assessor for 10 years, Keith Larsen will take over as the next county assessor.
Larsen won an uncontested election for the office in November. He will replace Ken Bench, who is retiring. on Jan. 1.
“I’ve been in the office for more than 10 years training under the current assessor…, Larsen said. “Really, it was kind of just a natural progression of having worked in the office and trained in the office … I thought I would be a good fit.”
Larsen is proud that the Assessor’s Office has been able to handle “tremendous growth” in the county, especially in the last four or five years. The office has done it without increasing staff size by becoming “more efficient in what we do,” he said.
“We’re not always the most popular office, but we’ve tried hard to be a friendly office to the public,” he added.
Larsen said he appreciated the fact that no one opposed him in the election.
“It definitely made things easier to be able to focus on the job transition,” Larsen said. “I’ve been getting ready for the transition, really, since the filing deadline, so that’s been nice.”
Larsen said he appreciates the confidence from other county employees, county commissioners and other elected officials who encouraged him to run.
“Ken (Bench) was supportive in me running, and I had a lot of support from the county elected officials,” Larsen said.
Larsen was born and raised in Ephraim and has been a “lifelong resident” of Sanpete County. He served an LDS mission, attended Snow College and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management though USU Extension in Ephraim.
As deputy assessor, Larsen’s primary responsibility was to be the real estate appraiser for the county. He said he most enjoyed “getting out and being able to see the county and visit the properties out in the county as well as meet with the people.”
As the assessor, Larsen said he will manage the office, supervise the other employees, work with legislators to protect rural interests and “represent the taxpayers of Sanpete County when it comes to different legislation that impacts rural Utah.”
“There’s some exciting stuff there,” he said.
Larsen said he looks forward to keeping up on modern real estate appraisal processes and training new employees to become appraisers.
Larsen said his office “manages well over a billion dollars of market value and tries to fairly assess … over 30,000 different parcels in Sanpete County.”
“Really, our job is just to divide that bill among the taxpayers,” Larsen said. “A lot of people think we assess the taxes. We don’t.”
“The taxpayers don’t like surprises, so continuity (from Bench to him) is something that I think they appreciate,” Larsen said.
“I’ve been with the county a long time,” Larsen said. “Experience goes a long ways. There are a lot of remote areas of the county that you wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with unless you’ve worked them, so I think experience is definitely important.”
Larsen believes that being a sixth-generation resident of Sanpete County goes a long way toward understanding the culture, land and people who live here.
“I think having somebody from Sanpete County in this role is very helpful,” Larsen said.
“Obviously the assessor is not the most popular job in the county because people associate us with property taxes,” Larsen said. “We’re kind of one of those offices that the less we’re in the public eye, the better.”