The 10 candidates for four county offices took the stage on Thursday night and answered questions. Each of the four races will be highlighted in upcoming editions of the Vernon Record. Today’s candidates are those running for tax assessor/collector. They are incumbent Sherrie Campsey and challengers Tissha Taylor and Angie Boyd. Not all questions are transcribed here, as some of the candidates were in agreement on issues, such as supporting and approving of the work done by the Wilbarger County Appraisal District, and in support of promising to have the office open daily 8 to 5. Questions were asked by the moderator, Daniel Walker.
WALKER: Question 1. Do you consider this a full-time job? For instance, how many hours a day will you be in the office?
BOYD: It is a shame that this question even has to be asked. I most definitely consider this a full-time job. In my opinion you cannot run an efficient or effective office if the boss is always gone. Of course, you have employees who will be held accountable for the job they do but at the end of the day the boss should be running the office and being held accountable for it. I believe our tax dollars are no laughing matter and should be handled with the greatest of care along with any other monies collected. I did not run for this office to sit at home. I ran to serve the citizens of this community and will be in the office from 8 to 5 unless I am at a class, doctor appointment, an occasional day off, a vacation or sick day. I have an excellent work history and work ethic so this job will be a priority for me as any other job has been.
CAMPSEY: Yes, I will also be in the office Monday through Friday 8 to 5. The citizens of Wilbarger County are free to come by at any time. I know it is important for us to be there and for us to be open. It is the tax assessor collector’s responsibility to make sure at the end of the day that all of the cash and checks have been deposited and that there is no money left behind at the tax office at the end of the day.
TAYLOR: Yes, this is a full-time position. If elected I will be in the office answering any questions, concerns or issues that might arise. If for any reason I am out of the office, staff will be instructed to contact me on my cell phone so your needs will be met. In my opinion it is very important to provide adequate customer service and not have the citizens running from one office to another looking for answers to their questions. Nobody knows from one day to the next what life will hold but this job will be my priority. In continuing my certification, I have a few classes to complete and those will require I be gone at times, but again I will be available.
WALKER: The thefts of tax money were a big issue for many residents – so we will ask two questions on this topic. First: Why do you think thefts have taken place in this office in the past few years?
TAYLOR: This office handles a large amount of money. Thefts actually happened before I was hired. Since I was not working there it is hard to speculate the exact reason for the thefts. I personally think it happened because no one was auditing the tills or drawers and they felt they could get away with it. I do feel there is a lack of structure.
CAMPSEY: Yes I was working there when this problem took place. Nobody really knows what went on, I’m just being honest. And no one knows about what goes through another person’s mind. Tissha mentioned we do deal with lots of money in that office. I have already implemented making daily deposits leaving no money or checks in the office overnight because that way no one is tempted to take it.
BOYD: I personally believe that the thefts have taken place because there has been no accountability along with an absent tax assessor for several years now and it seems no one else is handling those responsibilities. I understand that Chris has been sick for the last few years so in that case the deputy should have been the one stepping up in her absence. I have had several phone calls regarding the running of this office and to the community It appears that employees are just left alone and are running it how they want. With no one in charge there is no accountability for anyone. When there is no authority figure in place to manage the office then there is no guidance for employees. Someone must take charge and oversee this office in the future for things like theft not to happen again and for the office to stay open. My question is how a whole deposit goes missing and no one is charged or held accountable for it?
WALKER: What has been changed or what would you change so that it does not to happen again?
CAMPSEY: Since I have been in office I have learned and understand the importance of running an efficient office and have heard taxpayers concerns regarding office policy. That is why I have already implemented daily deposits leaving no cash or checks in the office overnight. I have restructured balancing and handling procedures of all cash drawers. If elected I will continue to accommodate the taxpayers of Wilbarger County and would appreciate your vote and look forward to serving the citizens of Wilbarger County. Like I said, I have already put these actions into place. I am accountable for the girls and I promise you this will not happen while I serve in the office.
BOYD: I honestly do not know what has been changed in the office since I do not work there. All I can go on is the auditor statements in the newspaper, that state from the last audits that some things recommended for several years still aren’t done. I believe having a boss in place everyday is a good start but there also need for dual control over the money, deposits need to be made daily along with disbursing the money to the entities as quickly as possible. I also believe that if there are not any cameras in the office that they need to be installed especially on the vault and cash drawers. I believe this office needs guidance and support that will hold everyone accountable for their job.
TAYLOR: I would propose that cameras with audio and video be installed. That needs to be budgeted and implemented immediately. My plan is to set up proper office policies and procedures that will be followed. Each employee will have their own till to work at. There will be no more working out of the same till and guessing which employee caused the till to be out of balance. I believe it is the responsibility of the tax assessor collector to audit the tills periodically.
WALKER: Closing statements will now be given.
BOYD: I want everyone to know that if elected I will take great care and pride in this office. I have great work ethic and I am very responsible when it comes to any job that I have ever taken on. I do feel that with my years at the appraisal district I have the most knowledge and experience for this job. Along with my banking experience I understand numbers and the importance of dual control and balancing. It has come to my attention that deposits are still not being made in a timely manner. I received a phone call from an entity regarding this and what I would do if elected. I decided to question a few more entities on this and have been informed that they have received only 2 or 3 deposits this month. January is one of the biggest tax collecting months. The question posed to me was where is our money. Obviously, I could not answer this. I can guarantee the taxing entities that if elected I will be making deposits daily and disbursing your money the next day. If anyone remembers 2009, it was the year the CAD had 1,986 protest. The Chief appraiser was out on sick leave and me and one other employee were left there to run everything. We also collected taxes at that time. I did finally get to hire someone part time to help. I personally touched and handled all protest that year with all ARB meetings being scheduled. It was a huge undertaking for one person. I worked most nights till 11 or 12 and weekends for 3 months in order to keep it all done. My point in telling you this is that I have the drive and dedication to do the job no matter what the circumstances are. Your vote would be greatly appreciated.
CAMPSEY: Yes, I do understand the importance of handling money and making sure deposits have been made. Yes, this past month we have had several people out sick and some of the taxing entities have been getting their deposits late and I do apologize for that. We are currently shorthanded. When I was elected to office, I was told I could not have a fourth person. So therefore, I am with the girls daily. I do work Monday through Friday to 5. I would also like you to know I have placed procedures in that all cash and checks are not left in the office and we do balance out daily and we do count the money at the end of the day. Not just one person is in charge of that. Two people count out the highway drawer and the tax drawer. It is very hard handling and office with so much money and everything but I do know that I am doing it to the best of my ability and I do feel like I am doing a wonderful job. I have a great respect for the girls I work with and they also respect me. I hope you will all vote for me. I have been in the office for eight years and I do know the ins and outs of the office. I would appreciate your vote. Thank you.
TAYLOR: I personally feel that I am the best qualified for this position in Wilbarger County and it is my desire to be your next tax collector assessor. With over 24 years of banking experience, supervisory skills, cash handling background, and customer service, I feel that this job is within my skill set. I enjoy serving the public on a daily basis and helping them with their needs. I will do the best job possible for my fellow citizens.