Gas pumps, dog tags and cigarettes in the Ottawa County Auditor’s office

Nov 21, 2023 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

No two days are alike for Ottawa County Auditor Jennifer Widmer, whose duties include everything from handling the county payroll to issuing dog tags. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)


Ottawa County Auditor Jennifer Widmer said the position is a good fit for her because she is able to switch gears quickly. That’s a good thing, because the auditor’s job is a smorgasbord of many tasks.

The auditor’s position is probably most well-known for determining a valuation of real property and the impact those values have on taxes. It’s not the most popular element of the auditor’s office, but Widmer hopes that a better understanding of the process will help ease taxpayers’ minds.

County auditors are mandated by the state to reappraise real property every six years, and the county updates values every three years. State law mandates the method auditors use to calculate value.

“There’s a method and a means to this. It’s not arbitrary,” Widmer said.

Property valuation requires a team of trained staff.

“We actually lay eyes on every parcel in the county. It’s quite an undertaking,” Widmer said. “I have an appraisal staff here. They fly the county and do aerials. They take 360-degree photos of the parcels, and we do a desktop review of the images. We flag major changes, like new houses or new construction.”

Widmer says many people worry about property values and taxes, and her office is always willing to answer their questions.

“I never mind the questions, so feel free to reach out,” she said.

Among her other duties as auditor, Widmer serves as the Chief Financial Officer for Ottawa County, where she manages county funds, including payroll. Her office handles the transfer of deeds for real property and mobile homes, administers lodging tax, and oversees weights and measures. Her staff checks everything from food scales in grocery stores to fuel pumps at gas stations.

“The auditor is charged with verifying scales and gas pumps. When it says five gallons, it has to be five gallons,” she said. “Weights and measures are checked yearly.”

Widmer’s office administers vendors licenses, cigarette dealer licenses and dog tags. Dog tags can be purchased beginning Friday, Dec. 1. Information on dog licenses can be found at

Widmer is a native and current resident of Genoa and a former longtime treasurer of the Ottawa County Republican Party. Her husband is a National Guard veteran and a physician with Firelands Physician Group.

She learned to multitask as a stay-at-home mother to her six children for 12 years prior to her election as auditor. Now, she applies those skills and her financial acumen to her work in the auditor’s office.

“I love numbers, I love accounting, and I love being detail-oriented,” she said.

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June 2024

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