BEAUFORT — After a weeks-long search, county officials formally welcomed Sarah Davis as the new tax administrator this week.
Ms. Davis will replace outgoing Tax Administrator Carl Tilghman, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
Coming to Carteret County by way of Pamlico County, Ms. Davis is originally from Oriental. She started as Pamlico County’s head tax person in 2016.
She said, after hearing of Mr. Tilghman’s retirement, she wanted to try her hand at managing the taxes of a larger county.
“Mr. Tilghman announced his retirement and I knew that I wanted to do more but stay in eastern North Carolina,” Ms. Davis said. “I submitted an application back in the spring and I actually didn’t get interviewed until the end of July. I kind of was surprised by it when they called me for the interview.”
She said while her stint as Pamlico County’s tax administrator was short-lived, she is proud of the work she and her team accomplished.
“We have almost completed a revaluation that will be effective January 2020,” Ms. Davis said, adding that her team won a state award for their work digitizing records, as well. “Before that, they were climbing (a) ladder to pull 10-years worth of notebooks down. Now they can click a button on the computer and all 10 years will come up at once. We were recognized and won awards for that.”
Ms. Davis also emphasized her former department increased its collection rate by 2% during her tenure. Ms. Davis said she hopes to recreate some of her successes in Carteret County.
“I want to work on collection rates,” Ms. Davis said. “Something that I like to call a collection life cycle … I call it a collection life cycle, that’s a term I like to use. It puts (tax rates) in an annual cycle.”
Ms. Davis said the effects from Hurricane Florence last September will be one of the key things she and her team will have to tackle. Earlier in the year, county commissioners decided to postpone the scheduled revaluation at the suggestion of Mr. Tilghman.
At the time, Mr. Tilghman suggested the reval should occur after residents had time to repair storm-damaged properties.
Ms. Davis said this topic is one of the key things on her radar.
“I’m not concerned about it, I thought it was a good decision by the commissioners and the (tax) office to delay it a year,” Ms. Davis said. “But (revaluations are) one of the biggest things we do in taxes. It will be my No. 1 focus through the fall and into the first part of the year. I have a lot to get up to speed, to sit down with the real estate staff to find out where we are.”
Ms. Davis said she is looking forward to working with staff to modernize how taxes are handled in the county.
“I’m excited about new challenges, a larger area, a coastal area, so I’m going in with an open mind and a lot of energy behind me,” Ms. Davis.
She said she also hopes to open the tax office up to residents.
“We want to be good (representatives) for our county and our citizens. If they ever feel like that is not the case, the tax office has an open door policy and they are always welcome to come in and give us feedback and we are more than willing to work with them,” she said.
Ms. Davis’ first day is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3. Her pay as the county’s tax administrator is $90,000 annually.
Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.