LAKE COUNTY ASSESSOR Hearing Officer Terrance Durousseau, Chief Deputy LaTonya Spearmen and Lake County Assessor Jerome Prince.
Terrance Durousseau and LaTonya Spearman may have different stories as employees of the Lake County Assessor’s Office, but one thing they have in common is that they are fully committed to their jobs.
Terrance Durousseau has been employed at the assessor’s office since February 2015 as a Hearing Officer. Durousseau is so committed to his job he starts his commute at 6:30 a.m. to make sure he gets there on time. He said, “I use to be a security guard and I didn’t make much money. Now I’m doing what I have to do to get to work. I wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning and I’m out the door by 6 a.m. I usually get home by 6 p.m.”
Durousseau says he has a lot of things going on in his life in addition to his traveling to work. He is planning to get married soon and so he works a second job on the weekends. He said, “I’ve only had one day off since Labor Day.”
Durousseau says he takes pride in being a hard worker because seven years ago he was shot and was out of work for a year with his right arm paralyzed. He said, “That was frustrating not being able to go to work so what I’m doing right now isn’t hard work but something I take pride in.”
Lake County Assessor Jerome Prince is somebody who has a lot of admiration for Durousseau for a lot of reasons. He first met him while he was a member of the Gary City Council. He was his wife’s tutor while she was in college in the master’s program. I recognized that he had talent but was a little shy.
Prince said, “I always wanted to provide from the first day I met Terrance an opportunity to come into a government office that was more than just pushing papers since I saw he had an interest in government. I wanted to provide him with an opportunity to utilize his skills, but yet be beneficial to the city, county and the state, especially to the city and the constituents we serve. I’m really proud of the accomplishments he has made. He came in and passed two Level certification and is currently working on his Level Three. We anticipate that he will have that completed within the next year. One of his goals is to seek the national designation that is available in this field. For me I’m just really proud to have been able to provide an opportunity for someone.”
LaTonya Spearman is the Chief Deputy at the assessor’s office. Collectively she has been employed there for 9 years. She started in 2003 and worked there for three years before leaving to pursue a career in real estate. She eventually came back to the assessor’s office in 2009.
She said, “When I came back I came as a Hearing Officer. Under interim Assessor Jolie Covaciu she worked in a management role. When Lake County Assessor Jer-ome Prince defeated Covaciu for the office, he appointed Spearman as his Chief Deputy.
In her new role, Spearman takes on all of the same responsibilities as the Assessor. She said, “In the absence of the assessor you are the person in charge.”
Spearman said she and Assessor Prince are very involved in the office. “There are a lot of things that we are trying to improve in the assessor’s office. We have a good staff. When we see room for improvement, we are very hands on and involved. Not to the point of micromanaging, but we just know there is room for improvement and we know it starts at the top so we lead by example. That’s how we see it and how it should be done.”
Spearman said they have had some pretty notable successes this year. “We are just wrapping up a major software conversion that had not been done in many years. The previous provider’s support was less than adequate and when Mr. Prince campaigned for his job, he campaigned on improving the technology. So, in his first year we have been able to accomplish that and we are pretty proud of that.”
In addition, Spearman said they have undergone some restructuring, changing some job titles, as well as reallocating responsibilities and duties to different people. She said, “Having him at the helm definitely makes things all the better.”
She said Prince and she share the same vision for the office, which makes things easy to get accomplished.
Spearman says she loves what she does. She said, “When you love what you do, it makes it feel less than work.”
Assessor Prince gave Spearman ultimate praise for the work she is doing. He said, “I would like people to identify with her because ultimately what I’m trying to do is develop respect for her as if they are respecting me. When you talk to her, it’s just like talking to me. She’s just as knowledgeable.”