In June 4 IssueBy John ThompsonNews-Register Reporter
Recently Russell County hired a new Occupational Tax Administrator; and though the person filling the position is new to it, the position itself was created in 1994 when the first occupational tax was enacted in the county.
As the new Occupational Tax Administrator, Bobbie Garner brings many years of working with fee collections in a governmental position. For 17 years she acted as "water clerk" at the City Hall in Albany, collecting water bills, posting payments and dealing with 5,000 customers a month.
She comes to the position replacing Sherry Stephens who left to pursue other opportunities. Garner said she applied for the position because she lives in Jamestown and the one minute commute was much more economical than the 45 minute commute she had been making.
Garner was recommended by a panel of five interviewers after interviewing 36 potential candidates. "I have never been through an extended interview like that," Garner said. After an initial interview she was then interviewed again along with two other potential candidates. "Even when it got down to only the three I didn't think I would get it," Garner said, "but I was tickled they would choose me."
After the extensive vetting process Garner's name was put before the Fiscal Court who unanimously accepted the recommendation.
Garner's hiring came at the end of a quarter's billing cycle which has given her an opportunity to learn the system and what her duties include, and has included official training in Florence, Kentucky, as well as informal training from Pulaski County's Occupational Tax Administrator which Garner said was invaluable. "The one on one training was really helpful, and having been on for a few weeks first really helped me know what questions to ask." This week marks one month on the job for Garner.
Next week will begin the second quarter billing cycle, and the first for Garner. She says the learning process has been going "good. It's a slow process because it's very different than water billing and working in the water department. The billing system is different but I feel like I'm getting a good grasp of the process."
The duty of the Russell County Tax Administrator is to collect local county tax and enforce the County Occupational and Net Profit License Fee Ordinance as directed by the Fiscal Court.
Occupational taxes are withheld from gross wages earned in Russell County, and submitted on a quarterly basis.
Net Profit taxes are collected from the net profits of all business ventures in the county; public and private businesses, lessors of rental property, farms and farming operations, and independent contractors are all examples of taxable entities. The Net Profit taxes are collected annually and are based on Federal returns.
All persons doing business in Russell County are required by ordinance to complete and submit a questionnaire to the Tax Administrator. To avoid interest and penalty, returns must be submitted by the due date.
Russell County first enacted a .25 percent occupational tax back in 1994. At that time the position of Occupational Tax Administrator was created to handle billing and collections. On April 1, 2011, Occupational License Tax 11-02 went into effect, raising the rate to 1 percent up to a net profit, wage or salary limit of $80,000, or what has been a somewhat controversial cap of $800.
"We're glad to have her," said County Judge Executive Gary Robertson, "she seems to be picking up on things. I think she'll work out fine considering she has 17 years experience collecting fees for Albany water." Robertson went on to say that he did not know Garner prior to the interview process, "I thought the best way to choose a new person for the position was to turn it over to a committee to chose who was best suited to the position."
The position of Occupational Tax Administrator is purely a function of the ordinance created by local government, and as such the position has no influence on setting of the tax rate or assessment.
If you have questions on how the taxes are assessed or collected you can contact Bobbie Garner at the office of the Judge Executive at 270-343-1404.