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Kanawha County assessor reorganizes office

Newly elected Kanawha County Assessor Sallie Robinson is wasting no time reorganizing positions in the office.

A longtime employee will no longer be serving as chief deputy.

Robinson, who served as former Assessor Phyllis Gatson's assistant for the past 10 years, announced that Steve Duffield would no longer hold the chief deputy position. 

However, Duffield will continue to work as head of the Commercial Real Estate Appraisal department, she said.

Robinson will not fill the position of chief deputy assessor, she said.

"It's just too much work for one person to be over all of the departments," she said.

She does not see the move as a demotion for Duffield. Instead, she said it's part of a larger office reorganization. 

Robinson also has begun naming other department heads. Janet Burke will serve as director of operations for Real Estate and Reappraisal. Susan Atkins will oversee residential property reassessments.

Harry Berger will oversee the Mapping Division and Frank King will supervise residential field deputies.

Sheri Moore will supervise the Personal Property Division, and Valerie Taylor will now serve as Robinson's administrative assistant.

Taylor will also handle personnel records, Robinson said.

Merla Prowse, who currently serves as office manager, will also assume dog-licensing duties. Sheri Kinder will remain a receptionist at the front desk, and Steve Sluss will remain legal counsel.

Tammy Rakes will continue to supervise the Business Division.

"We've already started implementing those changes," Robinson said. "We're moving people around to better utilize the staff in the office.

"This will be beneficial to the office."

 Some salaries will be altered, Robinson said. Those changes have yet to be finalized.

"I'll have to see how my budget looks," she said.

County officers will begin submitting their budgets to the county commission in the next few weeks. The commission will approve the budgets by the end of March.

Robinson did say that she would like to make the salaries for the department heads comparable and that there are too many disparities among the various office leaders currently.

Their current annual salaries, according to the Kanawha County Clerk's Office, are: Berger, head of Mapping, $85,999; Duffield, former chief deputy, $81,300; Sluss, legal counsel, $81,098; Moore, Personal Property Division supervisor, $50,584.

Rakes, Business Division supervisor, $47,320; Atkins, head of residential reassessments, $42,600; Burke, operations director, $36,000; Prowse, office manager, $35,500; King, field deputy supervisor, $28,000; Taylor, administrative assistant, $25,000; and Kinder, receptionist, $24,016. 

Robinson also hopes to provide pay raises for other employees, she said.

"I have 16 employees in the office that make less than $25,000 a year, and some of them qualify for food stamps," she said.

The assessor's budget may permit pay increases since some staff members have retired and the positions have not been filed, Robinson said. She does not expect to hire any new employees to fill these slots and instead will use the funds to grant raises, she said.

"We're going to have to do more with less," Robinson said. "Individuals that deserve a raise will have to step up and do a little bit more work."

Robinson hopes to initiate the raises by the end of January.

Although she is reorganizing the office and changing duties, Robinson does not plan to fire anyone.

"At this time, I don't plan on letting anyone go," she said.  

Contact writer Paul Fallon at or 304-348-4817. Follow him at



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