Jordan proposes tax office split

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Lincoln County Tax assessor/collector may soon become theLincoln County tax assessor and Lincoln County tax collector.

County supervisors are considering splitting the tax office intotwo separate elected positions, a move that would allow a pair oftax administrators to better handle the large volume of workgenerated by the Lincoln County public. County leaders agreed toconsider the proposal Monday after current Tax Assessor/CollectorNancy Jordan requested it.

“For a person to do their best job, it doesn’t matter how mucheducation or experience you’ve got, you can only be in one place atone time,” Jordan said. “For someone to do the best job, it needssplitting.”

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Any decision on splitting the tax office must be reached by Feb. 1to allow time for qualifying for the 2011 county elections.Supervisors will begin discussing the split Friday at their 9 a.m.docket meeting.

Jordan said supervisors have the power to split he office once acounty reaches $65 million in assessed value – Lincoln County’sassessed value stands at $350 million. Combining an existingassessor and collector into one position would require a ballotinitiative, but splitting the office is within supervisors’ realmof authority, she said.

The workload has become too great for one tax administrator tohandle, Jordan said.

Since she arrived at the office in 1984, the number of annual cartag sales has risen from 12,000 to around 40,000, while the numberof taxable parcels of land has grown from 18,000 to 23,000.Additionally, Lincoln County now contains about 22,000 mobilehomes, an increase of 12,000 units since 1984.

“My duties have quadrupled in some cases,” Jordan said. “When Icame to work here I collected the Little Bahalia watershed tax andthe county tax. Now I collect for the county, Brookhaven separateschools, the city of Brookhaven, the parts of Wesson that extendinto Lincoln County and solid waste. You can only spread yourselfso thin and do a professional job, and I would like to see theLincoln County tax assessor/collector stay professional.”

If the office were split, Jordan would remain as assessor/collectoruntil the new term begins in early 2012. She declined to commentabout seeking the tax office position on the ballot nextyear.

Supervisors have to weigh several factors before making a decision,not the least of which is the cost to taxpayers. Splitting theoffice in two would generate a second elected official’ssalary.

“You’re talking about another $60,000 per year job, give or take,”said county administrator David Fields.

According to figures kept by the county administrator’s office,Jordan is paid an annual total of $67,500 – a figure that includesa $5,000 addition for handling both the assessing and collectingduties and a couple thousand in certifications. The county taxcollector is also paid fees for handling the city of Brookhaven’stax collection requirements, an amount that added up to almost$39,000 last year.

“We’re going to look at the possibilities. The biggest concern forthe board will be cost-effectiveness,” said District FourSupervisor Doug Moak, president of the board.