Intro: At the 2014 North Carolina Association of Assessing Officers (NCAAO) Fall Conference in Wilmington, Durham County Tax Administrator Kim Simpson was awarded the Joseph E. Hunt Distinguished Jurisdiction Award on behalf of the Durham County Tax Office.
Each year, honorees of this award are selected based on achievements in areas of property tax assessment and/or collection, the implementation of a project, or endeavors to enhance the overall effectiveness of their county tax department.
to gain her
perspective on this recognition of her
department's achievements and gain insight into the successful projects & practices implemented by her
Simpson has been a part of the Durham County Tax Office for the last 18 years and has served as their Tax Administrator since 2008.
In addition to her
seat on the executive board of the NCAAO
, where she
serves as co-chair of both the Joint Legislative Committee & the Education Committee
also holds memberships in the International Association of Assessing
Officers and the NC Tax Collectors Association
"The idea came about as a result of several things," Simpson
"During the appeal process I witnessed many citizens who did not understand certain requirements, which fueled frustration with our office.
Many citizens, even though multiple publications were provided at the time of appeal regarding the effective date of the reappraisal, just ignored this.
staff spent many hours trying to get our citizens to understand the statutes and how they would need to determine if our value was correct as of our last general reappraisal."
"Our office has used other online tools and found that if you help the taxpayer take each question and ensure they provide the appropriate information, then the process is much smoother," continued Simpson
"Another goal of the project was to reduce the number of manual input into our CAMA system, as well as a way for me to monitor how responsive our office was to the taxpayer," Simpson
"The fact that the taxpayer could see where they were in the process of the appeal without calling our office reduced unnecessary calls to our call center.
The taxpayer now receives notifications on a regular basis on the status of the appeal, as well via email, and it helps to ensure we keep the citizen engaged in the appeal process."
It is the love of working with citizens and educating them that has kept her
motivated over the years.
"I am excited to see movement in the improvement on how we deal with citizens when appealing value," Simpson
We asked Simpson
wouldn't mind sharing advice with others in the tax industry looking to enhance the overall effectiveness of their office & achieve similar success:
"One area that I have found that may cause departments in local government the inability to make their jurisdiction stand out is the fear of changing what you are comfortable doing," Simpson
shared with us.
"Often, we also tend not to include local officials in the process in fear they may become too involved in our processes.
But I have found the opposite, often letting them know where you would like to go as a department and keeping them informed, provides you resources to get things done."
"We have also implemented the ability to obtain a lot of information directly from our website, therefore allowing citizens to obtain many layers of information from multiple sources through data sharing," said Simpson
"For example, the ability to see the building permits occurring in areas of the county, sales data, census data and the historical data showing the changes occurring with your county."
was asked how it felt to be recognized by her
peers for the implementation of this project to provide a more user-friendly online appeals solution to better inform the public:
"It is always an honor to receive recognition on the progress our county is making," Simpson