Forty-seven years. Most people have a hard time fathoming being in one job for 47 years
(I myself have a hard time fathoming being alive for 47 years, but that’s a different matter).
The group of ladies I interviewed recently have a combined 47 years of service to Coconino County and it’s citizens. County treasurer Connie Fry, county assessor Betty Peck and county school superintendent Kathy Perko have decided that the time has come to retire and will not be seeking an additional term of office once election time rolls around in November.
All three offices have very specific duties. The assessor values property in the county for the purpose of taxation. Taxpayers are notified of their property values in January or February of the year preceding their tax notice. The assessor also maintains a tax roll with current recorded property ownership and creates maps of the County’s changing configuration.
The treasurer is the ex-officio tax collector and treasurer for all county school districts and special districts. The treasurer mails all real property tax notices and collects all real and personal property taxes for the state, county, incorporated cities and towns, school districts and special districts. The collected revenues are then distributed to the taxing entities. The treasurer is also responsible for meeting the debt services for bonds issued by the county, school districts and special districts.
The superintendent of schools is the fiscal office which assists and advises county school districts on all budget and finance matters. The office is responsible for all school elections, filling school board vacancies, and recording/monitoring teacher certification. The office also administers grants in a variety of areas, including environmental education, education for incarcerated youth and staff development.
It’s easy to see how these three officers must have a good working relationship to keep their departments humming like well oiled machines. Not only do these three ladies have a great rapport professionally, they are friends on a personal level as well.
“I just want to mention how much I appreciated the comradeship I had with Betty and Connie,” Perko said. “It really helped get me through some rough spots.
“I don’t think I could have been as effective without that friendship.”
The “triumvirate,” as I like to call them, will be pursuing various interests upon retirement, including traveling, reading, sewing and “putzing around.” I caught up with these three busy ladies one sunny morning and found that when you put three dynamic and different personalities in one room, you get one heck of an interview. Here are the observations they made, amid lots of laughter and reflection:
Give me five words to describe yourself.
• Perko (KP) — funny, teary, tenacious, naive.
• Peck (BP) — creative, perfectionist, hardworking, stubborn, cynical.
• Fry (CF) — reserved, patriotic, sympathetic, idealistic, fun-loving.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of public service for you?
• BP — I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth and have changed so much since I’ve taken the job. I value being successful in helping the general public understand what the assessor’s office does.
• CF — Educating the taxpayers to their responsibilities related to their property taxes as well as the ability to assist the taxpayer in what needs to be done and which department to go to.
• KP — I’ve taken the office and used the limited statutory power of the office to more fully serve children and schools. One thing I’ll take away from this job is that I’ve seen the positive impact that the Esperanza School has had for some families.
What are you planning on doing after you retire?
• CF — I’d like to travel more, as well as enjoy some plays/musicals here and in Phoenix.
• KP — With my successor’s blessing, I would like to stay on as a volunteer to help oversee the building of the new Esperanza School. I want to be “Super Grandma” and will also be traveling around the country as I have been asked to participate in a series of speaking engagements.
• BP — I’m going to learn how to rest. I have some trips planned and would like to play with some crafts that I haven’t done in a while.
What words of wisdom do you have for your successor?
• CF — Take time to smell the roses.
• BP — Learn to rely on your staff from the beginning.
• KP — Remember it’s always about the kids.
What is your motto?
• CF — Keep smiling, it can only get better.
• BP — Keep your hands busy and never stop.
• KP— Let go and let God.