Scot Van Meter, the Buchanan County assessor, has resigned nearly three months before his term was supposed to end in August.
An elected official resigning before their term ends is uncommon, but the unusual timeline for an assessor affects this outcome. In any other position, Van Meter would have been out of office and replaced by Dean Wilson, the assessor who won the local election in November. But the assessor is the only elected position in the county that has a different term — it starts in September rather than January.
“Their term runs through August,” said Lee Sawyer, the presiding Buchanan County commissioner. “It’s the only officeholder in the county that has that timeline. Dean Wilson, who was elected by the citizens of Buchanan County, was scheduled to start September 1, and by state statute that’s how that works.”
In May, Van Meter, who has been the assessor since 2001, told the county commissioners that he received an opportunity in Florida and would be leaving his position early. He resigned on June 4.
“We started kind of figuring out what our options would be within the state statutes,” Sawyer said. “What do you do when an assessor resigns prior to them being finished and those kinds of things? So we did the research.”
The commissioners named Tracy Starks, the chief deputy in the assessor’s office, interim assessor for the next month. Starks has been in the department since 2010.
“Tracy is very capable, she knows what goes on in the office,” Sawyer said. “She’s been in that office since 2010 in various capacities. She’s very familiar with the office and a smart young lady. We’re excited to have her there for the next month.”
Wilson, the elected assessor, has agreed to begin his term early. He will start on July 6. Sawyer called the governor’s office to make sure Mike Parson agreed with the change, as he has the right to appoint somebody. He concurred with the decision.
“I reached out to the governor’s office and talked to his chief of staff and just explained to the governor’s office what we’re planning on doing,” Sawyer said.
During this transition, there are some changes that need to be made. The assessor’s office has a couple open positions. The county wants to fill those and will give Wilson the final say once he begins in July.
“There’s going to be a search process that human resources will be helping the assessor’s office with,” Sawyer said. “The plan is that once Dean comes in and gets on board to kind of help make those hiring decisions.”