In Dec. 9 Issue
By John ThompsonTimes Journal Reporter
Tim Popplewell was raised most of his life in the Sano community of Russell County with a six-year-period spent in Augusta, Ga. when his father took a job there. He is the son of Larry and Barbara Popplewell, and is a member of a close-knit extended family in the community. He is married to Susan McGaha, the daughter of State Senator Vernie and Connie Sue McGaha.
He is the proud father of Luke Cameron, who he and his wife adopted from Kazakhstan in 2006.
He is a member of Free Union Separate Baptist Church where he is a Deacon and Sunday School Superintendent. Popplewell is very involved in the church and considers it "a very good part of our lives."
After graduating from Russell County High School in 1992 Popplewell receive his Bachelor's in Business Administration with an emphasis in management from Lindsey Wilson College. He worked 11 years with Tier One Auto Supply where he managed the functional fuel parts division, manufacturing and engineering sector. He has managed as many as 60 people, including engineers and manufacturing specialists, toward a common goal of making the company more profitable. He sees his experience as serving him well in public office.
"I've always enjoyed public service," Popplewell said, "I feel like I have a servant's heart. And I enjoy working with people, and helping people."
After hearing that longtime PVA Rodney Owens was retiring, Popplewell said he started getting encouragement to run for the position in the 2010 election.
Owens retired in 2009 and was replaced by Interim PVA Brooke Bunch.
Popplewell took this time to prepare himself by taking the difficult exam meant to show a person is qualified for the position, one of only two elected positions in the county which requires thorough testing, the other being the Circuit Court Clerk office.
Working closely with the public and other governmental agencies is a priority for Popplewell.
"I'm hoping that with the background I have that I'll be able to work with the other offices in the courthouse," he remarked before mentioning Judge Executive-elect Gary Robertson's initiative to find if seasonal boat storage on the lake could produce additional revenue for the county.
"If there are boats on the lake and at the marina's that we're not collecting property taxes on that we're entitled to by law, then we need to be. Anything that this county is entitled to by law, we should be receiving it," he said, clarifying that while that determining if this is a possibility is not his particular function he would be glad to, and interested in working with the Judge and other offices in assessing the property or helping develop ideas.
Popplewell plans to keep the current staff at the PVA office, which consists of Deputy PVA Eugene Cress, Mapping Technician Mike Flanagan, Chief Property Assessment Clerk Gail Gosser and Chief Administrative Assistant Janet Johnson.
"They're good Christian people who work hard and combined has right at 60 years experience," he said.
Along with his skills and experience working with and managing people, Popplewell said he believes a strength of his is in analytical skills, and he promises to give due consideration to any expenditures out of his office, to the point of doing cost analysis before major purchases.
A perfect example he gave was consideration in buying a small, fuel efficient vehicle for his office to do its work. Currently office personnel are paid mileage when using their personally owned vehicles to travel to sites needing valuation.
"We'll always do a cost analysis to see exactly what our return on investment," Popplewell said, "and when will that return happen." Utilizing a skill set that comes directly from his career experiences working in manufacturing, Popplewell began breaking down the cost/benefit analysis of purchasing a vehicle.
Popplewell is interested in educating the public on the role, responsibilities and functions of the PVA office. He has a few ideas on how to do this; be it with the PVA website or in developing and school age appropriate lessons that would both inform and encourage future participation in local governance by school children.
"I really want to educate the people on what we do and why that we do it," Popplewell said, "A lot of people, when they think of a PVA, or tax assessor, it's not a pleasant thought." He continued, "People need to know what's going on in government. They need to know what their county officials are doing for them, and to help them."
A common misconception of the PVA office is that they set tax rates, which isn't true. The PVA's job is to assess value of property, which is but one arm of the taxing process. Tax rates are set by the different sanctioned taxing boards within the county, as well as the rate set by the county for self maintenance, and the rates set by the cities. Currently taxing districts consist of: Board of Education, Ambulance, Extension Office, Health, Hospital, Soil Conservation and Library Boards.
Popplewell pointed out that the number of sales of property in Russell County have "drastically decreased," much like the rest of the country, but that sell prices have not decreased as much as the rest of the country.
"In my opinion there are several things I attribute that to," said Popplewell, "one is that people like our county, people want to live in Russell County. That's something we can be proud of." As such, property values have not decreased as much as other places.
Popplewell informed me that real property is given a value assessment every four years, and that all properties are done so on a rotating basis. The assessed value remains unless a property is sold, at which time the value is reflected as the selling price. Though values are set every four years there are occasionally circumstances which add value or devalue a property which may not be reflected in the officially assessed valuation. In these cases the PVA office will be glad to talk with the property owner, Popplewell said.
Throughout the interview Popplewell emphasized his desire to work closely with other offices to the betterment of the county. He also wanted to thank a number of people, not the least of which is the outgoing PVA Brook Bunch.
"I really appreciate and I want to thank Brooke Bunch for allowing me to come into the office after the general election; answering every question I had. If I had a question she didn't know the answer to she would have it for me the next day. Brooke has been very helpful in the transition and I really appreciate that." Popplewell said.
Finally, Popplewell wanted to end with this, "If people have ideas for the PVA office or things they'd like to see so that the office can better serve the public, I'm open for those suggestions and I encourage people to stop by the office or give me a call."