TEMPERANCE — The Bedford Township Board decided to fill a vacant position in the assessing department with a soon-to-be retired Ohio Air National Guard senior master sergeant who has been deployed to duty posts worldwide, including Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar.
Lewis Smith spent 33 years in the military, 26 of them with the Ohio Air National Guard 180th Fighter Wing at Toledo Express Airport, where he is the ground support equipment supervisor, overseeing such hardware as bomb lifts and power carts.
He spent seven years in the Air Force on active duty, and holds a bachelor of arts degree in organizational management from Bluffton University. He will start Sept. 4 at $14 an hour.
Mr. Smith, 56, fills an assessor position, vacant since fall, that appraises properties for the tax rolls. Mr. Smith has no experience in in these duties, but the township will train him.
The assessing department has coped with the staff shortage by borrowing a staffer with experience in assessing from the treasury department.
Supervisor Greg Stewart noted that state law requires the township to have an assessing department and the position had been budgeted.
Township Assessor Chris Renius and Mr. Stewart looked for credentialed candidates for the full-time job, which was advertised on the township Web site and the magazine of the Michigan Assessor Association.
But the candidate they found with the necessary credentials wanted $30 an hour and, after an interview, township officials deemed that candidate unsuitable for other, undisclosed reasons.
They looked for strong but uncredentialed candidates, according to a memorandum Mr. Renius sent to the board, and Mr. Smith was chosen from 12 applicants.
“Mr. Smith interviewed very well and seems to possess the very important skills of empathy and listening, both of which are a must-have in our profession,” Mr. Renius wrote.
“Mr. Smith shows the qualities of an individual that is a self-starter, motivated, and has the desire to acquire skills necessary to become a well-rounded, vital part of the Bedford Township team.”
The cost of training him to earn a Michigan Certified Assessing Officer designation will be about $2,000, plus travel expenses over 18 to 24 months.
Mr. Smith was hired with a 7-0 vote after a board discussion. His pay originally was set at $12.50 an hour, a wage board members said they thought was too low.
Mr. Stewart explained that he wanted “to be able to move a person up and reward him.”
Trustee Rick Steiner described Mr. Smith as someone who would be successful at the job and thanked him for his service to the country.
Mr. Smith and his wife, Kathy, live in Lambertville.