Blue River mayor runs for Summit County assessor
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY – Blue River Mayor Lindsay Backas has led her town through significant improvements in recent years, and she aims to take her leadership skills to the assessor’s office.
“I’m very oriented to get the job done and to do it well,” she said.
Backas, 63, a Republican, has served on her town’s board of trustees since 1999. Recent improvements to the town of fewer than 1,000 people have included two new bridges, a new town hall and expansion of sewer and natural gas services.
She said as assessor she anticipates managing and working with people to ensure communication is sufficient not only among staff but the public as well. Backas said that in 2009, when the assessor’s office received 6,800 appeals on property valuations, local residents told her they would have preferred more information.
“There wasn’t enough education done,” she said. “They should have known what (their properties) were being valued on.”
The appeals on a quarter of local properties were the result of values set during a time when the economy was flourishing. Values in 2011 are expected to drop an average of 20 percent from that level.
“The budget at the assessor’s office is huge,” Backas said. “There are ways to cut that.”
Incumbent Assessor Beverly Breakstone, a Democrat, is running for a second four-year term. She has a staff of 18, including 13 licensed appraisers.
Breakstone said her office has “been able to do more with less” the past four years as revenue declined. She said she aims to go paperless and perhaps use state-of-the-art imaging software to cut down on costs and improve efficiencies.
Backas said with her background starting a business for computer parts as well as working for Johnson and Johnson, managing for a New Jersey property management company and opening a mortgage company, she intends to run a top-notch assessor’s office.
“I have a vast amount of experience doing a lot of things but always working with people,” she said. “Above all, customer service to me is the most important thing.”
As Blue River mayor, Backas has worked to make the town safer for residents.
“Blue River had probably a house a year blowing up from propane,” she said. “Natural gas is now available to all residents.”
A new bridge project was completed this year to provide an alternative route for people trying to evacuate during emergencies. As failing septic systems threaten water supplies, Backas oversaw the start of an expansion of Upper Blue Sanitation District to provide sewer services.
Town residents get their water from wells, which can become contaminated when nearby septic tanks fail. One property was revealed to have a Volkswagen bus underground in use as a septic tank.
“These septic tanks are going to fail,” Backas said.
She’s also pursuing state grant money for a public park with a playground on half an acre near the intersection of Regal Circle and Coronet Drive.
“We have done an awful lot in that town,” she said. “There are so many things I’d love to do.”
Backas said that once the first park is complete, she’d like to add a park with basketball hoops and a running track for adults.
She’s lived in Summit County for about 13 years, is married and has four children and five grandchildren.
Backas is president of Breckenridge Mountain Rotary.
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