Candidates for Phelps County Collector of Revenue on Tuesday, August 7.
(R) Faith Barnes
(R) Lori Daharsh
What makes you the best candidate for the office of Phelps County Collector of Revenue?
Faith Barnes: My professional experience running a small business, running a non-profit, working at the university, and managing a bank give me a unique perspective on working with the public, managing people, and working with proprietary databases. I have also worked in hospitality management and will bring my passion for customer service to the office of Collector. I am able to bring all of that different knowledge and experience and utilize it to run an efficient, friendly, and innovative office. An office run to serve the people of Phelps County. As a Realtor, I understand the verbiage and taxation that occurs with personal property and real estate. I will be able to explain in layman terms, the reasons of why, what, and how.
Lori Daharsh: For 15 years, I have been a part of an established team which has been dedicated to serving the taxpayers of Phelps County. I have 15 years of experience in all aspects of tax collection and the duties of the Collector’s office. During those years, I have worked to build relationships with the Phelps County taxpayers by providing excellent customer service and counsel. I am committed and dedicated to the people I serve. Electing me will ensure continuity of service and protection of the institutional knowledge that I have gained from the years of hands on experience. We are a small office of three people and a seamless transition should be important and valuable to the taxpayers of Phelps County. It will ensure that the office will continue to run efficiently and follow the Missouri State statutes. I am endorsed by Davis R. Haas. Please request a Republican ballot on August 7th.
What are the duties of the Collector of Revenue?
Faith Barnes: In a nutshell, the duties of the Collector of Revenue are to collect personal property taxes (cars, boats, ATVs, chickens, etc), real estate taxes (land and any building improvements), and depending on the arrangement, collect city taxes; then distribute the collected taxes to the different taxing entities that receive taxes such as schools, fire, police, railroad, and many more. The Collector of Revenue follows state statutes and files financial reports with the state auditor. The Collector also manages personnel. Although collecting and disbursing taxes is a large part of the Collector's duties, working with the public is another large and important part of the duties of the Collector. In addition, I feel the Collector's office should work collaboratively with the other county offices in answering and assisting the public.
Lori Daharsh: The Collector’s office is governed by the statutes that are imposed by the State of Missouri. I will continue to follow those statutes and work with the State Auditor’s office to ensure the office has checks and balances and follows the law. My number one job is to make sure that we collect taxes and collect the right amount, and then disburse those taxes. The Phelps County Collector’s office is currently very efficient in collecting taxes by offering multiple payment options to our taxpayers. Payment choices include having your taxes deducted directly from your checking account each month, paying with cash, check or credit/debit card for a fee. Payments may be made in person in the office, placed in either of the two drop boxes located in or around the courthouse, on our website or thru our automated phone system. Payments are considered on time if received or postmarked by December 31st of each year. Currently, less than 10% of taxpayers pay after December 31st each year. In addition, the office collects real estate taxes for the cities of Rolla, St. James, Doolittle, Newburg and will begin collecting for Edgar Springs on the 2018 tax statements.
What is the single most pressing challenge facing the Phelps County Collector of Revenue's office?
Faith Barnes: The most pressing challenge facing the office is keeping up with technology. Technology helps increase communication to the public. Updated and enhanced technology can help tax payers understand what is required of them and when and how to go about paying the taxes owed. Enhanced technology can help tax payers understand the different options for paying their taxes. If elected, I will communicate clearly the different options for paying taxes. I will also do further research to find other ways to make it more convenient to pay taxes. The current website needs a major facelift and I will add information about the office, provide links to other county offices, and have an information spot for upcoming meetings or general news. Although technology is great and useful, I will make myself personally available, because I feel there is no replacement for human contact. My door will always be open. The staff of the collector's office interacts with the public on a daily basis.
Lori Daharsh: The Collector’s most pressing job challenge is twofold: 1. Keep the tax collection rate above a target of 96% and track delinquent tax payers. 2. Distribute local property taxes in a timely manner on behalf of the county to fund vital services such as schools, roads, cities, fire and ambulance districts. The different county entities (services) rely on the collector’s office to do an excellent job at collecting revenue (taxes). Taxes fund their budgets each year. Our job is also distributing the collected revenue quickly so the services that rely on that money can continue to operate. I am also a bookkeeper for the county. I keep county tax collection records of money owed and money collected.
How would you ensure training to assist the public and enforce professional behavior?
Faith Barnes: Customer service is my passion. I believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect. I believe in having a Code of Conduct; outlining a clear list of expectations for employees. In addition there are many on-line training modules that are available and case studies that show various ways to act in different situations. I will require my staff to go through such training. I strongly believe that a leader should never ask an employee to do something that leader is not willing to do. With that said, I will be on the front line and out assisting the public. I'm a fan of positive reinforcement and will have incentive programs for the staff. In addition, I will have a customer suggestion/comment box. A few times throughout the year, I will personally call customers to make sure their experience was a positive one and elicit feedback about all of us.
Lori Daharsh: The Collector’s office is a small staff of 3 people with over 55 years of collective experience. We all enjoy working and interacting with the public and look forward to continuing to serve in the Collector’s office. If elected as Phelps County Collector, I would work to resolve any issue brought to my attention involving a citizen and a staff member.
Should county offices be subject to term limits? What is your position on terms limits and how would a change in officeholder benefit or harm the operation of the office you are running for?
Faith Barnes: Although I am a fan of term limits, the reasons for having term limits don't necessarily apply to the county offices. The elected officials in county government are not career politicians. They are dependable county employees who happen to get elected (every four years), if they are lucky. With that being said, the voter is the most powerful term limiter. It is crucial that voters don't get lackadaisical but hold their elected officials accountable. This means attending meetings and asking questions. It would not harm the operation of any office for a change of leadership if that needs to happen. A new leader with fresh ideas and a different perspective can certainly benefit the Collector's office. If elected, I will continue to go to trainings and seminars related to my office and make sure I am staying up to date with the latest software and technology.
Lori Daharsh: Voters always determine who holds an office. That’s the ultimate term limits. Experience matters and should be valued in all areas of work and life. Experienced employee and long serving elected officials ensure offices run efficiently and serve the taxpayers with knowledge and expertise. My 15 years’ experience in the Collector’s office and as Deputy will ensure the knowledge of the job isn’t lost in the transition.
What should voters know about you to make an informed decision?
Faith Barnes: I've worked hard campaigning for this position. I have knocked on countless doors and walked many miles meeting the people of Phelps County. I want to work and serve this wonderful community as the Phelps County Collector. No one is owed anything and I am working hard to prove my value. I am a strong leader with a lot of professional experience. My strengths are budgeting/financial and customer service. I have a servant's heart and love Rotary's motto of Service Above Self. Please elect me, Faith Barnes, August 7 as the next Phelps County Collector.
Lori Daharsh: My 15 years of experience and dedication to the taxpayers of Phelps County makes me qualified for the position of Collector. The office will continue to be run efficiently and, as always, customer oriented. I also have training from the Missouri Association of County Collectors, experience with yearly budget preparations and all other aspects of the job. I would appreciate your Vote on the Republican ballot on August 7th. Thank you for your support.