Commission to address tax office

Mar. 31, 2013 @ 07:03 AM

More than a month ago a report from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners scathed the county's tax office.

On Monday, Rutherford County commissioners will vote on taking steps to correct some of the issues brought forth in that report.

Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen will present a plan that will not only address phone, technology and space issues but also reinstitute funding for a Revenue Administrator and ask for the renaming of the department from the Tax Office to the Revenue Department.

The role of tax administrator has been in place but unfunded since Kep Kepley's contract was not renewed in 2011. If funding is approved, it will constitute a change in the current commission policy of having the department utilize co-administrators.

Classen said that he plans to fund the position for $15,000 for the remainder of the current fiscal year and will recommend that the position be funded fully for the next fiscal year at a range of $62,038 - $93,475.

"We don't know how much it will actually cost and it's not likely that we will have someone before May 1, but we are budgeting for it in the off chance that we do have someone on board," Classen said.

For the interim, Classen will recommend that County Assessor Clair Hubbard be named interim tax administrator until the position is filled permanently.

The recommendation will also include cross-training employees in the department on land records, real estate and, personal property and collections.

Classen will also recommend a complete review of the department's tax software and proceeding with a new, cloud-based software package that will integrate with the Register of Deeds, Finance and Code Enforcement/Building Inspection departments.

Another part of the recommendation will be to upgrade the phone system for the entire county government entity. Classen said that the county would like to explore a digital system.

"It became apparent more so with the tax office that we needed a new phone system," Classen said. "There will be a long-term cost savings because we will be able to cut down so many phone lines."

Part of that will also include exploring a joint phone system with Polk County because of the fiber optic lines that run through both counties. Classen said that, by utilizing a partnership, one county will be able to serve as a backup to the other.

The recommendation also includes developing a new "open office" floor plan for the tax office.

"We're attacking on all fronts what we saw in that report," Classen said. "From software to telephones to management and layout of the office, we're working on all of them."