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INSIDER: Tattnall County Tax Commissioner Candidate Laura Adams

INSIDER: Tattnall County Tax Commissioner Candidate Laura Adams

Due to the social distancing guidelines, we have converted our traditional AllOnGeorgia candidate video interviews into short questionnaires. Each candidate in the race was provided an identical questionnaire with the same deadline. Answers were not edited in any way.

The Primary Election was moved to June 9th.
The last day to register to vote in the primary is May 11th.
Early voting begins May 18th.
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  1. Please provide a brief bio on yourself.

    My name is Laura F. Shuman Adams. I am 34 years old and a lifelong resident of Tattnall County.  I grew up in the country, outside of Collins with my parents Glenn and Pam Crews Shuman. I went to Collins Elementary and Middle School and then graduated from Tattnall County High school in 2003. After graduation, I worked at South Georgia Bank in the bookkeeping department and later with The Tattnall Bank as Head Teller and New Accounts Representative. In October of 2007 I married Luke Adams of Claxton and we have three beautiful children Hadley (9), Weston (7), and Lucas (3). Luke and I built our home across the road from where I was raised and we are members of Grace Truth Church in Claxton.  

  2. What experience do you have that properly equips you for the position of Tax Commissioner?


    I have worked in the Tattnall County Tax Commissioner’s office since 2010. I started out as a tag/tax specialist which helped me learn all the different rules and procedures for processing tags, title work and processing property tax payments. In 2017, I was appointed bookkeeper which included completing all daily deposits, the disbursement of monthly payouts, balancing all monthly statements, processing adjustments and refunds, as well as working with County audits for the office and the Board of Education. In May 2019, the State began our new tag and title system called DRIVES. With the many training classes and learning the DRIVES system, I am well equipped to help all of the tax office clerks with any questions regarding the new program.  In February 2019, I was sworn in as Deputy Tax Commissioner and worked alongside former Tax Commissioner Dale P. Dutton, helping with tax sales, reports for the yearly tax digest submission and other duties of Deputy Tax Commissioner. In May 2019, I completed the (GATO) Georgia Association of Tax Officials conference in Athens which continued my education for this particular role. In September 2019, I began serving the citizens of Tattnall County as Interim Tax Commissioner for the remainder of Dale P. Dutton’s term. Upon being sworn into this position, I took on and have carried out all of the roles of Tax Commissioner. 
     

  3. How do you view the day-to-day role of the Tax Commissioner? (The balance between managing the office, working with other elected officials, and general tax -related work; duties and responsibilities; etc.)


    The day to day roles have their challenges but they are also very rewarding.  These roles include but are not limited to speaking with customers, helping my employees, working on payroll, going over reports and audits. But doing something you enjoy while working in a great environment makes it well worth it. As far as working with other elected officials, I have experienced that everyone is more than willing to work together in order to run our offices and make everything work as it should for the betterment of our great county.

  4. What practices are in place from the previous administration of Commissioner Dutton that you think should be carried over by the new administration in the long-term?


    Commissioner Dutton has always worked with the Citizens of Tattnall County regarding their taxes and has been more than helpful in working out payment arrangements. Assisting people who have fallen on difficult times can be challenging and I strive daily to handle that with much grace and patience. I plan on continuing to help our Citizens who need assistance and I am willing to work with them on coming up with a payment arrangement for their taxes.  I would like the Citizens of Tattnall County to feel like they can call on or come to see me regarding any matter… that I, Laura Adams, am here for them.  
     

  5. How can the Tattnall County Tax Commissioner’s Office be more efficient?


    I feel that our office does a great job at working efficiently in the roles that are defined for each of us. All of my employees are always working diligently to help customers with their tags, title work or any customer service opportunities in person or over the phone. Everyone knows the role that is there for them and we work together to be as effective and efficient in all of our duties, just as a team should. We have had many people say how much they appreciate our staff’s willingness to help them and that they always enjoy coming into the Tattnall County Tax Commissioner’s office.

  6. The Tattnall County Tax Commissioner’s Office has been criticized for a lengthy backlog of enforcement action, in which property owners have been delinquent in paying owed taxes for upwards of five or more years. What do you plan to do to eliminate this backlog and ensure the laws are applied equally across the board?


    One of the most difficult parts of being Tax Commissioner is seeing people who are going through difficult financial times and therefore struggle to pay their taxes. But I do feel that all citizens have the responsibility of paying their taxes no matter who they are or what the circumstances might be. Back in January, I started sending out delinquent letters to people that have back taxes. Some have responded while others have not. As stated in my answer to question 4, I am willing to help our Citizens by making payment arrangements with them but once they make the agreement then that is what needs to take place. I plan to do my very best at collecting any delinquencies and for the ones that do not respond to the notice, the property in question will be added to a list for tax sales going forward in accordance with State guidelines. Some people may not realize what all their tax money takes care of such as Law Enforcement, EMS, Educators, County Employees, etc. In other words, taxes being paid in a timely  manner are key for Tattnall County to run efficiently.

  7. How do you plan to advance the office technologically while simultaneously being a good steward of tax dollars?


    I have already began updating our office with some technological advancements by creating a link on the website, tattnallcountypay.com for property tax payments in which Tattnall County Citizens are already making use of. There have not been any additional charges to create this link. I would also like to look into options for tag registrations to be paid online as well. So keeping the citizens in mind but also the budget, I will look at each project carefully and be considerate of the spending of our tax payers’ dollars. 
     

  8. What accountability checks are in place to ensure the utmost integrity by Tax Commissioner Office employees?

     

    Those employed by the Tattnall County Tax Commissioner’s office know that honesty and integrity are core values of mine. I want people to see God in my life and I want to be an example everywhere, especially in the workplace. The ladies that I am blessed to work alongside of in our office are more like family so there are great expectations for everyone to do their job and to do it well. They know to hold each other accountable and to be honest and truthful about everything. If a mistake is made, everyone should try and help figure it out, working together as a team. 

    A concern that has been brought up to me is regarding the amount of tax payer money that we collect and how I plan on keeping it secure and accounted for. Each clerk has their own drawer that they have to account for daily and they all know the importance to be careful when completing these daily transactions. The bookkeeper is responsible for calculating the total daily clerk deposits in order to verify that all totals are correct with her reports. Then, I as the Tax Commissioner, utilizing my knowledge in serving as the bookkeeper previously go behind and check to make certain all of the figures are correct as well. I also double check behind our bookkeeper when the money is being dispersed to the local entities and balance the bank statement each month. 

    I want the office to continue to run as smooth as possible and to be sure everyone is accountable. Continuing these checks and balances helps the entire process and ensures that everyone in our office knows everything will match up as it should.

  9. Why do you want to be the next Tax Commissioner of Tattnall County?


    I want to remain in my current role as Tax Commissioner because I feel like over the last 10 consecutive years working in the Tax Commissioner’s office I have gained experience and knowledge of how the office operates and runs efficiently. The fact that I have worked in each position within the office gives me the understanding to operate as Tax Commissioner effectively and enables me to lead my employees by example. I believe that I can also continue to transition into the ongoing technological advances to help out the Citizens of Tattnall County moving into the future.

  10. Is there anything else you would like the public to know about you? (This area may also be used to include a bio and offer information on where people can learn more about you?)


    I just want to say that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Interim Tax Commissioner and I pledge to use my knowledge productively to carry out my duties as Tax Commissioner and to uphold the office with honesty and integrity.  God is first in my life and it is He that leads me and my family. I pray that everyone will see Him through me in each and every aspect of life and that His work will be done.
     

Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

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