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Special election to determine fate of tax offices

In just over a month, Chilton County residents will vote on legislation that would dissolve the county’s two tax offices to form one office.

Act No. 2008-436 would place the responsibilities of Tax Assessor and Tax Collector under a single elected official known as the Revenue Commissioner.

If passed, the act would take effect after the concurrent six-year terms of the tax assessor and tax collector who will take office in 2009. This means the revenue commissioner would take office in 2015.

The act includes the provision that, should either the assessor or collector fail to finish out his term, the remaining elected official would immediately assume the role of revenue commissioner.

The question will appear on the ballot as follows:

“Do you favor the adoption of Act. No. 2008-436 of the 2008 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature which provides for the abolition of the Office of Tax Assessor and the Office of Tax Collector of Chilton County and the consolidation of the duties of those offices into one office to be known as the County Revenue Commissioner of Chilton County? Yes ( ) No ( ).”

A “Yes” vote will indicate support of the act, while a “no” vote will indicate opposition.

Supporters say the move could save tens of thousands of dollars due to the elimination of one elected official’s salary.

“The best we can tell, it would save the county about $50,000 a year,” Chilton County Commission chairman Allen Caton said. “Most counties in the state have a revenue commissioner.”

In light of talk that a revenue commissioner might hire an assistant, Caton said the act does not provide for an assistant, and that the county commission would have to approve any such decision.

“It would be more work for a revenue commissioner, but then again, the majority of work is done by the chief clerks,” he said.

Caton added he expects a big turnout for the election Nov. 4 and encourages people to get informed and vote on the act.

“It’s an important issue,” he said. “We need every extra dollar we can get.”

Opponents of the act are concerned with the removal of checks and balances between the two offices, even though both are regularly checked by a state examiner.

Chilton County resident Robert Arnold said placing both offices under the umbrella of one official could leave the door open for dishonesty, as well as increase the margin for error.

“There’s no way one man can do a job consistently that two full-time men can do,” he said.

Arnold is also concerned about the possible hiring of an assistant, and the cost of that person’s salary.

“That is a potential problem and a probable problem,” he said. “It has worked well like it is. [Candidates] go in there knowing how much the salary is, and they know that when they’re running for office.”

The last time a similar act went up for a vote, Arnold helped place signs across the county asking people to vote against the act.

A copy of the complete act can be picked up at the Chilton County Probate Office.