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Letter: Response — Volunteering in tax office legal, ethical, proactive

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In response to Mrs. Scott,

Dear Mrs. Scott and others who have posed questions and concerns on the issue of me volunteering at the tax commissioner’s office to learn the job.

First, let me explain how this happened. Last year, about this time, I had several people tell me that Mr. Wood was going to retire and not run for the tax commissioner’s job. They thought I would be a great tax commissioner and encouraged me to run. I didn’t know the details of the job, so I made an appointment with Mr. Wood to hopefully gain some insight into what all is required to be a great tax commissioner.

The day we met, we went over my background and a general overview of all the duties of the tax commissioner. At the end of the meeting, he told me that he thought I definitely had the business skills to run the office.

I then asked him if there was somewhere I could go to learn how to do the job. I did not feel comfortable telling the citizens of Troup County that I could do a great job for them when, in fact, I did not know for sure.

He then told me that 16 years ago, before he first ran, he went to Meriwether County and volunteered in the tax commissioner’s office so he could learn the job. He said if I were willing to volunteer my time at his office, he would teach me the job.

My first question was, “Is that legal and/or ethical?”

He said, “I did it 16 years ago, but if it will make you feel better, we can call GATO (Georgia Association of Tax Officers) and ask them directly.”

We called and spoke to the executive director of GATO. He not only said it was legal and ethical, he went on to say he was proud of my proactive approach and wished all the candidates running for tax commissioner across the state would do the same!

Before I left that day, Mr. Wood told me that if anyone else asked him to let them volunteer, he felt it only fair to give them the same opportunity. I agreed. No one did!

In summary, Mr. Wood and I are not buddies; at this point we have gotten to know each other and I would put our relationship in the category of “teacher/student” or “colleague.” The volunteer work I did to learn the job was not only legal/ethical, it was cheered on and appreciated by the entity in place to educate our tax collectors!

Lastly, anyone had the same opportunity to do the work I did! No one so much as even called to have a conversation with the current tax commissioner to educate themselves on what all is required of the job!

Finally, I think it should be noted that I also reached out to several other tax commissioners across the state and country! That is what a proactive business leader does and one more reason to vote Bill Hunnicutt to be your next tax commissioner!

If anyone has any other questions or comments regarding this issue or any other issues, I can easily be reached on my cell phone at 706-302-3475.

Bill Hunnicutt

LaGrange