For 14 years, Bob Branstetter has had a front-row seat to witness Warren County’s growth. Now, two years into his fourth four-year term as the county’s property valuation administrator, Branstetter is ready to turn the task of assessing all real and personal property in the county over to someone else.
“I thought maybe it was time to do something different,” Branstetter, 67, said of his decision to retire at the end of January. “I certainly would like to say ‘thank you’ to all the voters and taxpayers who supported and voted for me.”
Those voters and taxpayers were all affected by the behind-the-scenes work of Branstetter and his staff since he was first elected in 2006 to fill the job previously held for 20 years by Bill Carter.
The PVA’s role of assessing property has had an impact on the tax bills of county residents and businesses, and Branstetter said it has been a tall task to stay abreast of the county’s rapid growth in residential and commercial property.
“This area (Warren County) has kind of been going crazy with growth,” Branstetter said. “It just keeps going, even in times when you think there’s going to be a slowdown.”
You don’t have to take Branstetter’s word for it.
According to the PVA office’s records, the number of real estate properties (residential, farm and commercial) in Warren County has grown from 47,305 in 2006 to 49,063 in 2020.
More eye-popping is the assessed value of those properties. With farm properties diminishing while higher-valued residential and commercial properties have grown, the total assessed value of the county’s real properties has skyrocketed from $5.03 billion in 2006 to $10.1 billion in 2020.
The resulting workload for his seven-person staff is challenging, Branstetter said, but other considerations led him to retire before his term is up.
“One big thing is that I have to get some knee surgeries done,” he said. “I’ve been putting that off.”
Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon has been in office during Branstetter’s entire tenure, and he said the PVA will be missed.
“I really hate to see him go,” Buchanon said. “He has done a terrific job ever since he was first elected. He’s a good leader and a great team player.”
One member of the local real estate community, Ron Cummings of Century 21 Premier Realty Partners, said Branstetter was known for his fairness.
“He never showed any favoritism, and I respect that,” Cummings said. “He was open and receptive whenever you contested something. That’s all you can ask for.”
Branstetter’s retirement will trigger a process that will result in Gov. Andy Beshear appointing his successor.
Jill Midkiff, director of communications for the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, explained in an email that all people seeking the office of PVA are required to pass a qualifying examination administered by the Department of Revenue.
Midkiff said people scoring 70% or better on the exam will be eligible to be considered by the governor for an appointment to fill Branstetter’s unexpired term.
The person appointed will be eligible to seek reelection in 2022, Midkiff said. She said no date has yet been set for the PVA exam to fill the Warren County vacancy.
“Additional information about the examination will be provided in early February,” Midkiff said.
Branstetter, who was a homebuilder before becoming PVA, said he may return to that line of work.
“I’ll probably end up doing something in real estate or construction,” he said. “I may do something part-time.”