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After spending nearly three decades in office, Taylor County’s PVA has hung up her calculator. Julie Shields has retired, effective last Friday.
Shields became property valuation administrator in December 1989. By then, she had worked as a deputy for PVA Sam Harden for four years.
When he announced his retirement, Shields took the exam required to become a PVA candidate.
And since she was the only one to pass, Shields got the PVA post.
“I consider that a Godly thing,” she said. “And a blessing from the Lord. [He] got me in and he’s taking me out.”
Shields said she took the test to in an effort to ensure she kept her job. She said her father was instrumental in helping her get her foot in the door.
PVAs are responsible for assessing the real property in their respective county. The staff members at the office work to ensure property is fairly assessed and all records of property sold and purchased are kept up to date.
Shields has been re-elected to her position in every election where she was a candidate. She was last elected in November 2010. Her current term ends in December 2014.
Shields said the PVA exam will soon be offered in Frankfort. Gov. Steve Beshear will appoint someone to her post out of the pool of those who pass the exam. That person will serve the remainder of her term. She said she expects that process to move fairly quickly, with a new PVA in office in the next few weeks.
In the interim, Martha Tapley, the state field representative for Taylor County, will serve as PVA.
Those who want to file for the PVA position can do so at the Taylor County Clerk’s office. Candidates can file beginning Nov. 6. The deadline to file is Jan. 28.
If necessary, Shields said, there will be a May 2014 primary race. The new PVA will be chosen in November 2014 and take office the first Monday that December.
Over her years of service, Shields said some people haven’t been happy with their property assessments. There are typically a handful of appeals filed each year, she said, with 11 being the most she has had in a year.
“But for the most part, we are able to work with everybody.”
The job has changed a lot over the years, Shields said. Computers are responsible for the biggest change.
“Back then, it was a handwritten tax roll,” she said, and converting them to electronic records in 1990 took nearly two months.
“There’s been a lot of changes since then,” she said. “It’s been interesting.”
A 1978 Taylor County High School graduate, Shields is married to Marty Shields. They have two daughters and sons-in-law, Amy and Kenny Lawson and Bethany and Chad Shively. The Shieldses have four grandchildren, Grant and Kaylyn Lawson and Keenan and Micah Shively.
And Shields said her grandchildren had a role in her decision to retire.
“I have grandchildren I want to enjoy more,” she said. “I just knew it was time.”
Shields said she has been considering retirement for the past year and a half. She said the time has been hectic.
“[There’s] been a lot of stressful things,” she said. “Life’s just too short.”
Shields said she also has diabetes and high blood pressure.
“You just don’t know day to day what will happen,” she said. “Just the not knowing if you’re gonna have your job after the election ... “
And at 52, Shields says she still has plenty of time to enjoy retirement.
“Do something you want to do rather than you have to do,” she said. “They say stress kills.”
Shields said she will now have time to clean out her closets and do other house cleaning.
“But mostly enjoy my grandchildren, getting to keep them some.”
Shields declined to comment on whether the ongoing battle with allegations that she committed ethics violations while in office led to her decision to retire.
The allegations center on Shields and her husband, Marty, working in the same office. He began working at the office shortly after she became PVA and still works there today.
Last May, Shields said that she believed the Department of Revenue should have notified her if any of her actions were in violation of the ethics codes.
When hiring or promoting, Shields said, a PVA is required to send the action to the Department of Revenue for approval.
“They always approved it without any question,” she said last year.
Shields said she is going to miss her staff, which consists of three deputy PVAs, and meeting people at the conferences she attended.
“I’m gonna miss the people,” she said. “But I think it’s gonna be a weight lifted. I think it’s gonna be nice.
“I think I’m gonna enjoy it pretty well.”
Part of what she won’t miss, Shields said, is finding a parking place at the Taylor County Courthouse.
“[And] I guess the stress of certain times of the year,” she said.
“I want to be fair. And I think more people think that we have been,” she said.
“For the most part, people have been pretty easy to work with and understanding. Dealing with the ones that you can’t reason with, there’s not many of them, but there’s a few.”
On her last day of work last week, Shields met with an auditor and had a last lunch with her staff.
“I’m just thankful to the Lord that he’s provided me this job for this many years,” she said. “I want to thank the people of Taylor County for electing me to serve them this many years.
“The older you get, the faster those four years go.”
And even though she won’t be on the next ballot, Shields said, “I’ll keep up with the different races and who’s running.”