WYDaily asked candidates on the ballot for the November general election to respond to a few questions so readers can get a feeling for where these folks stand on issues. Look for Q&As with all 44 candidates in districts covering the Historic Triangle in the coming days. Today we continue with Ann Thomas, the incumbent York County Commissioner of the Revenue. She is running unopposed.
Please share a brief bio of yourself: your age, family, number of children and their age, and your education/business experience.
I began working in the Commissioner of the Revenue office right out of high school at the age of 18 and I am now 56 years old. I am married to Dwight David Thomas, going on 36 years.
I graduated from York High School, have 38 years of experience and have taken career development classes administered through the University of Virginia, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and the Commissioner of the Revenue Association of Virginia where I have achieved the prestigious designation of Master Commissioner of the Revenue.
I am President of the Bright and Associates Commissioner of the Revenue Users Group. Bright and Associates provides municipal software which is used by approximately 70 localities in Virginia.
I am active in the Commissioner of the Revenue Association of Virginia, Virginia Association of Assessing Officers, Virginia Association of Local Tax Auditors, Virginia Association of Governmental Archivist and the York County Chamber of Commerce.
I am past president of the Kiwanis Club of York and served on the Advisory Board for NATASHA House.
Some may describe a constitutional officer as an obscure position. How would you explain what you do?
It is difficult to describe because duties are vast and complex.
Constitutional Officers are established in the Constitution of Virginia. In a nutshell, we are elected by the voters to carry out the laws of the State and the locality. The Commissioner of the Revenue is the Chief Assessing Officer who establishes value of property and applies the tax rate established by the Board of Supervisors. I provide statistical and other information to County officials, which they can use to make decisions in the best interest of the citizens of York County.
It is my duty to discover, assess, defend and correct local taxes, which is critical to the effectiveness of local government. The main areas I am responsible for are Real Estate; Tax Relief for the Elderly and Disabled, Disabled Veterans Tax Relief, tax on Public Service; Bank Franchise Tax; State Income Tax; Personal and Business Property Tax; Personal Property Tax Relief, Business License, and excise tax, which include Food and Beverage (Meals) Tax, Transient Occupancy (Room) Tax, the additional $2 Room Tax and Short Term Rental Tax.
We constantly review and audit the Virginia State Sales Tax to ensure businesses are properly licensed and that York County is receiving the 1% local sales tax.
What are some of the biggest changes in your office since you were elected in 1992?
Communication between the various County Offices, have improved. The one most recognized is coordinating the business license application process between 3 other County offices.
York County has had the foresight to advance in technology. Since 1992, we have progressed to having a personal computer on every employee’s desk. The County realized the volume of the paper files, cabinets and space needed for this office and they provided funding which resulted in this office being the first office have imaging capability. The records are accessed through our mainframe computer, and within seconds the history of that account can be accessed, resulting in time saved for staff, and most importantly for the citizen.
There are unlimited resources for discovery and research using the internet. Instant access to sections of the State Code, Attorney General Opinions, Tax Law, etc.
How do you plan to make your office more efficient if you are re-elected?
I am constantly looking at ways to streamline, improve processes, and expand services. I have already implemented on-line registration, renewal and filing through the internet, which provides automatic access to the Treasurer’s side for payment. I am working with our computer software company to develop compliance programs and an event module. This will allow us to electronically download reports received through various sources for audit and compliance purposes. This will also give us a mechanism to send automatic e-mail notifications to certain taxpayers or businesses for reminders of filing and payment deadlines and for general informational purposes.
I will continue to offer excellent customer service. Customer service is my number one priority. In most cases a person is having their first contact with a county office. The impression they receive from my office will be a lasting impression for my office and the County as a whole.