Lake County’s longtime chief assessment officer was publicly honored Tuesday as he readies for retirement.
Marty Paulson is stepping down May 13 after 16 years in that post.
Paulson also served as chief clerk for the Lake County Board of Review, as a chief deputy in the county clerk’s office, as a member of the Lake County board of health and in other roles in a public service career that began in the 1990s.
Lake County Clerk Robin O’Connor read a resolution thanking Paulson for his service during Tuesday’s county board meeting in Waukegan.
“Martin Paulson has led the chief county assessment office with professionalism,” O’Connor read. “(He) has established the department as innovative, transparent and service orientated.”
The board responded with a standing ovation and more words of gratitude.
“Marty has been a dedicated person to this county,” said Commissioner Mary Ross Cunningham, a Waukegan Democrat who filled in as the board’s leader Tuesday because Chairwoman Sandy Hart was absent. “We hate to see you go.”
Fellow Waukegan Democrat Angelo Kyle credited Paulson for modernizing the data-reliant assessment office’s computer system.
Paulson’s office oversees the work of the county’s independent township assessors, who are responsible for valuing property for tax purposes. The office also mails annual assessment notices to taxpayers and processes homestead exemption applications, among other tasks.
Additionally, the office supports the assessment appeals process, which is conducted by the county board of review.
The office was honored by the National Association of Counties in 2010 and 2013.
Paulson thanked his employees for their work through the years.
“We have been through a lot, when you think of a real estate boom and a real estate meltdown,” said Paulson, of Wadsworth. “I’m very grateful to all of them.”
Paulson also thanked his colleagues in other elected offices for their cooperation, as well as Lake County’s township assessors.
Paulson has been at the center of a few political controversies in recent years.
In 2016, five township assessors and seven Lake County property owners sued Paulson in federal court, claiming he and other county officials violated their civil rights by blocking them from properly valuing land. They also alleged Paulson wrongly reversed thousands of property value changes they made.
A judge dismissed the case in 2017.
Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation that would have put a question on the November 2018 ballot asking if Paulson’s job should be an elected position.
State Rep. Sam Yingling, a Grayslake Democrat, was the driving force behind the bill. He called Lake County’s property tax system “dysfunctional” and alleged the chief assessment officer can unilaterally increase assessments and drive up taxes.
Then-Gov. Bruce Rauner killed the legislation with an amendatory veto.
Karl Jackson, a deputy in the assessment office, will serve as interim chief assessment officer until the county board chooses a permanent replacement.
Paulson plans to spend more time with his wife, their children and their grandchildren.