Joco 913

Johnson County Appraiser Paul Welcome sailing into retirement

Paul Welcome, appraiser for Johnson County, discussed an adjustment to residential property appraisals during town hall in Prairie Village last year.
Paul Welcome, appraiser for Johnson County, discussed an adjustment to residential property appraisals during town hall in Prairie Village last year. File photo

After nearly three decades at the helm of the Johnson County appraisers office, Paul Welcome is charting course for smoother waters. He will retire on June 14.

Welcome took over the position of appraiser for Johnson County 28 years ago. At the time, he wasn’t planning to stay for the rest of his career, but the job was a good fit.

“It’s just a great place to work, with the staff and the executive team, and to have opportunities to be in my profession,” Welcome said. “It has been great.”

The office has changed considerably since 1991 when Welcome first arrived. At the time, the appraiser’s office had two green data entry terminals. The drawing system used by the state of Kansas was dot matrix. Now, the Johnson County Appraisers Office has a completely computerized system which shows the accurate footprint of a house and uses oblique aerial photography to identify measurements on properties down to 4 inches.

Welcome says his goal has always been to have fun, work hard and help his staff be the best they can be. He has tried to provide educational courses and opportunities for staff to gain designations in their field. In 2017, he also allowed office staff to take on a more flexible work day, which has helped with morale and lowered turnover in the office.

“It was a benefit from the standpoint that we were able to provide something that didn’t cost us anything,” Welcome said. “We have seen good production and good output. The staff loves the flexibility we’ve given them on their work hours.”

Welcome has participated nationally and internationally in professional organizations, winning multiple awards in his field serving as president of the International Association of Assessing Officers and on various committees for that organization. He is an eminent Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and in 2018, was in the initial class of the International Association of Assessing Officers Fellows Program.

County Chairman Ed Eilert credits Welcome’s professionalism with helping the county excel and keep up with state statutes through decades of tremendous growth.

“Paul has maintained the highest professional standards in meeting the obligations of the state,” Eilert said. “He’s been in the position a long time. It is a challenging position, to say the least, especially in the last several years when our economy has been very strong and housing prices have been going up.”

Johnson County currently has an average home value of about $320,000 and accounts, in 2019, for about 35% of the total property values in the whole state of Kansas.

“That’s dramatically different from all of the other major metropolitan areas in the state,” Welcome said.

Welcome decided it was time to retire because he is the right age, wants to travel and plans to take care of his health. He also will volunteer more and maybe spend time sailing.

“I like to sail. I used to have a sail boat,” Welcome said.

While not originally from Johnson County, Welcome says he plans to continue living in Johnson County after retirement.

“Johnson County is ranked number 18 as far as one of the best places to live and work in the country, and it is true. It is a great place to live and work,” Welcome said.

A national search to fill the position is expected to take five or six months.