Letter: Tax commissioner job business, not politics

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2016


I have been blessed to live my entire life in a small town, LaGrange. It is wonderful that I rarely go shopping or to a restaurant where there is no one I know. But, inevitably, there comes a time when you need something done and have more than one friend that would love to do it.

Many times I have had to choose which friend I hire to do a particular job. I have always used no other criteria in choosing except for specific skills pertaining to that job and experience. Now this situation has arisen with the office of tax commissioner. I have known both candidates for many years, so I knew it would be a critical choice that I would need to be able to stand behind in the end.

I figured I would need to know exactly what the tax commissioner job entailed. The tax commissioner collects the amount of tax due based on the values set by the tax assessors and the millage rate set by the Board (of Commissioners).

He also collects ad valorem taxes for vehicles. In total, this amounts to more than $60 million in collections. The county sheriff actually has the constitutional authority to collect the delinquent taxes, but only the delinquent taxes.

A few years ago, our sheriff (Donny Turner) chose to hire an outside company to collect delinquents. They did that job in its entirety. The sheriff set up an office at the courthouse for the delinquent payers to make their payments, but it was only to take in payments.

The money collected was then turned over to the tax commissioner. If it was still not collected, a deputy placed the pre-prepared letter on the door of the property, and if it was necessary, the contracted company sold the property on the courthouse steps under the instructions of the sheriff. The sheriff’s duties under this scenario accounted for a very small percentage — less than 5 percent — of the tax commissioner’s job.

After learning exactly what the job entails, I was able to make a confident decision to support Bill Hunnicutt. After graduating from the University of Georgia, Bill built quite a large financial services company with as many as 50 employees over five states and handling millions of dollars a month.

He was required to keep meticulous records and make a ton of reports. Changes made to the industry, after the banking collapse, made it impossible for a relatively small company like his to survive.

Those circumstances may have taken away his company, but it did not take away his experience, and thank goodness he has chosen to use his experience to benefit Troup County.

I hope that this gives you all a good understanding of how I made my choice. I hope that you will make your decision based on real experience and understanding of the office, and not on friendship.

This office is not like most elected offices. There is nothing political about it. This is a business office that requires someone with extensive business experience. We should consider ourselves very lucky that Bill is willing to do this job for Troup County.

Ferrell Blair


Editor’s note: Clarifications added in parenthesis.