Armstrong right selection for tax post

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2005

As you may have read in this newspaper last week, Shelby County Commissioner and longtime county resident Don Armstrong has been tapped by Gov. Bob Riley to serve as the county’s new property tax commissioner. Armstrong replaces Annette Skinner who retired from the office. Armstrong and Skinner faced off in a four-person race for the office in 2002.

Armstrong has served on the County Commission since the early ’90s. The work he and others have done on the commission has been credited by many for helping our county get into the solid financial shape it is in today. Armstrong’s work on the commission will be missed.

But now he has accepted the new challenge of managing tax assessments and collections for Alabama’s fastest growing county. That’s no small order.

We all recognize the strain growth puts on roads, city services, schools and the like, but think for a moment what the tax commissioner’s office is charged with handling.

First, the office is responsible for keeping track of property valuations, property tax payments and bills, homestead exemptions, etc. for each and every existing home in the county. Second, they must keep track of all those same items for each and every home constructed in the county. And third and most importantly, the property tax commissioner’s office must be accurate on every item that flows from or into their office.

When you consider this county encompasses approximately 795 square miles and well over 64,000 homes, it is easier to gain perspective on the enormity of the tax office’s job.

That said, the same stewardship and hard work that made Armstrong a great asset on the county commission will serve the citizens of Shelby County well in his new role. Armstrong is not new to tough challenges; he’s risen to them before and he will rise to this one. Considering that courtesy property tax notices are typically mailed to property owners by Oct. 1 of each year, our new property tax commissioner will have little time to “settle in” to the new job.

Riley made the right choice in picking Armstrong for this important county post and now must

name a replacement for his seat on the county commission; here’s hoping we are just as fortunate in this selection