Reynolds says goodbye after 26 years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Shelby County’s tax assessor Bobbie Reynolds turned over the reins this week to the county’s new property tax commissioner Annette Skinner.

Skinner formerly served as the county’s tax collector but was elected to the newly formed office of property tax commissioner last year.

&uot;It has been my pleasure and honor to serve the citizens of Shelby County as their tax assessor,&uot; Reynolds said, indicating she has felt truly blessed by her experience.

Reynolds was first appointed to the position of tax assessor in January 1977 by then-Gov. George Wallace, a democrat, to serve out the remainder of Tommy Snowden’s term. Snowden had been elected as the county’s probate judge.

&uot;I subsequently ran a successful democratic campaign to seek the 1979-85 term of tax assessor,&uot; she said. &uot;In 1985, Shelby County became a predominantly Republican county literally overnight, and I was defeated.&uot;

In May 1991, Reynolds was once again appointed to complete the unexpired term of Robert Thompson by Gov. Guy Hunt, after she had won the election but prior to taking office.

&uot;I feel honored to have been appointed to this office by both a Republican and a Democratic governor,&uot; she said.

She was then elected as a Republican candidate in 1996.

Reynolds said just after her 1977 appointment, she realized the process of assessment in the county was &uot;antiquated,&uot; being based on an &uot;honesty principal where there were large gaps in ownership mapping and assessment was dependent upon each property owner’s sworn assessment.&uot;

She said a federal court order forced the county to achieve equalization.

&uot;We had to replace our old system with a new appraisal and mapping system,&uot; she said.

Soon afterward, the assessor’s property maintenance department was created under Reynolds’ supervision.

These days, she said, the tax assessor’s office is involved in assessing, mapping, appraisal and personal property with &uot;all working together to achieve equalization of all assessed property,&uot; Reynolds said.

She and her competent staff have worked to realize the following goals including the fact that assessment of property has increased from 32,000 parcels in 1979 to almost 81,000 parcels in 2002.

The office has implemented a program to assist disabled and senior citizens once a year at the Shelby County libraries with special exemptions.

Other goals include:

* Re-establishment of personal property from 75 parcels in the beginning to more than 10,000 parcels today.

* Countywide digital mapping.

* Countywide digital aerial photography.

* Pilot projects to add topographic mapping to the tax assessor’s ownership mapping base.

* Data exchange agreements to share mapping data and vital information related to the appraisal of property with several county and city governments.

* Implementation of a computerized sketch of all new buildings in the county for more than four years.

* Initiation of a program to begin digitally photographing all new buildings.

Shelby County’s tax assessor’s office was the first in Alabama to achieve a digital overlay of the soil groups and the first in the state to use soil maps that can be viewed and analyzed through digital ownership maps as well as digital aerial photos.

Reynolds said the state Department of Revenue’s ad valorem division uses Shelby County as a model for other counties to follow.

Last year, she said, the office received an invitation from an international association to present a demonstration of its geographic information services. The chief appraiser and chief mapper delivered the presentation.

Reynolds said the 1977 assessment of property in Shelby County was $154 million, which amounted to more than $4.97 million in property taxes.

In contrast, the 2002 assessment of property was $1.7 billion, amounting to $83.3 million in property taxes, almost three-fourths of which was school revenue.

And she said proudly that since 1977, there has never been an unsatisfactory audit from the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts.

In addition, Reynolds said, she was a founding and charter member of the Alabama Association of Assessing Officials. She also served as one of its first officers.

The organization was founded for the support and education of its members and their employees.

&uot;It has been my pleasure to attend and support the educational curriculum offered by the AAAO and to extend its benefits to all employees in my office,&uot; she said.

At present, nine members of the appraisal and mapping staff have achieved professional designations.

&uot;We pride ourselves on professionalism. This office has always enjoyed the privilege of extending service and aid to the citizens of Shelby County,&uot; Reynolds said