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September 17, 2013

Willingham seeks re-election to revenue commissioner

Barry Willingham will seek a second term as Cullman County revenue commissioner in the 2014 elections.

The revenue office is a combination of the old tax assessor and tax collector operations. The office of revenue commissioner is a six-year term.

“My office has a direct impact on every citizen. Our main focus is customer service. No one wants to pay taxes and stand in line for a long time, so we’ve cross-trained employees and done things to make the process as quick and pleasant for people as possible,” Willingham said.

The revenue office handles matters concerning land, appraisals and tag purchases. Willingham believes the cross training of employees allows better service for residents when tags, for example, become due.

He noted that last year alone the revenue office worked more than 150,000 transactions in tags.

“Organization is very important in our operation,” Willingham said. “We collect almost $50 million in sales taxes to disperse to the county, and from there it goes to other municipalities and the state.”

Willingham began working in the revenue office at 18 years old. He worked in neighboring counties through the years as an appraiser and in other roles before settling back into Cullman County’s operation.

“I was able to see some things when working in other counties that have been helpful here. We have level staffing now with 32 fulltime. When I took office there was 45,” Willingham said.

As revenue commissioner, Willingham said cutting down overtime and staffing and making the operation more efficient provides more money for local services.

“Overtime and staffing are the biggest strains on a budget. You have to have enough people to do your job well, but that’s where the cross training comes in,” Willingham said. “Almost 50 percent of taxes go to education, so by not spending unreasonably in our budget we can provide more for the schools.”

Willingham serves as a Republican in office. No one else has announced intent to run for the office.

David Palmer may be contacted at dpalmer@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.

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