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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

Collecting tax payers money

Thursday, February 21, 2008

(Photo)
The Fulton County Collector Calvin "Buster" Smith and his three deputies, Michalle Watkins, Fay Tomlinson and Shelia Auten.
Reporters note: This is the fourth in a series about the elected offices in Fulton County.

The county collector is an elected official in county government. In some counties, the office of collector has been combined with the office of treasurer, but that is not the case in Fulton County.

The collector is elected to a two year term of office with the requirements that he or she is a qualified elector and resident of the county.

"We work in coordination with the assessor's office," Fulton County Collector Calvin "Buster" Smith said. "We take the assessment value for personal property and real estate and apply the millage rates given to us by the different districts, to come up with the dollar amount to be collected starting March 1 of every year."

In general, the county collector collects taxes for the county and municipal, county school library and improvement district taxes and turns them over to the county treasurer.

Under Arkansas provisions they are responsible for collecting all property taxes, during the installment periods after the taxes are assessed. At least once a month the county collector is required to turn over tax revenue to the treasurer.

"We also apply new exemptions such as DAV, homestead and so forth. We make any adjustments that may have changed after the time that the assessor's office has rolled values over to us. We certify property to the state of Arkansas for non payment of taxes. We also work with mortgage companies on escrow payments and title companies on title searches," Smith said.

In the event of the vacancy in office, the quorum court would fill the vacancy by appointment. The person they select would serve until the next general election when a successor is elected.

Before beginning the position, the collector must enter into an official bond, to guarantee their proper performance of duties. The collector also must take the official oath of office.

The county collector receives a salary that is decided on by the county quorum court and within the applicable law. The county collector cannot keep the various fees or commissions collected in the performance of their duties because they are only an agent or trustee for the county treasury.

To assist the county collector in the performance of their duties, the county collector may appoint as many deputies as the quorum court will approve. The collector generally supervises the deputies and may discharge them and regulate their employment, within the guidelines established by the quorum court.

According to Smith, the deputies that help share the work load in his office are Michalle Watkins, Fay Tomlinson and Shelia Auten.

The collector also performs the duties of delinquent tax collection involving the preparation of delinquent tax lists, the tax collection and the settlement with the county clerk.

"We collect improvement taxes for CVSID, MRID, and MSID. We maintain tax records for current and delinquent taxes," Smith said.

The records of the county collector's office, are the evidence of their official duties and that requires records to be exact, accurately recorded and well maintained.

"We run monthly distribution reports to balance the books to the money that we have received for the month and make sure it is distributed out to the proper entities. When it is balanced, we turn over the reports and a check to the treasurer's office for further disbursement," Smith said.

"At the end of the year we do a final settlement which gives the breakdown of all taxes taken in and where taxes have been distributed such as libraries, schools, roads, fire departments, county general and so on," Smith said.

The revenue collected serves as a significant source of income for every county government as well as each city and school district located within the county.



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