COVINGTON - Newton County Tax Commissioner Barbara Dingler is seeking a third term in office, promising to continue to improve services for residents.
"It's been an honor serving them as tax commissioner for the last nine years. I have the experience and dedication. I have been with the county for 23 years. As tax commissioner, I will continue to update any means possible to provide the best customer services to the citizens of Newton County," she said.
Dingler was appointed tax commissioner in 1999 to fill the unexpired term of Carol Harris. She was elected in 2000.
Since taking office, Dingler has reported a collection rate of real and personal property at more than 99.8 percent for several years and has implemented an online registration renewal and payment process.
What, if any, changes would you make to improve service at the Tax Commissioners Office?
Several improvements to service have recently been made, Dingler said.
On April 1, the Tax Commissioners Office began accepting homestead exemption applications, which were previously filed in the Tax Assessors Office. Because residents must already go to the office for tag renewals and other business, it's a more convenient location to file for exemptions, she said.
In addition, customers can now renew their tags online at www.dor.ga.gov and
can view and pay property taxes at www.newtoncountytax.com.
Also, Dingler has cross-trained employees to handle both vehicle registration and property tax payments in an effort to have more windows open and reduce wait time, especially during lunch hours.
Do you think a satellite office is needed, and if so, how would that be funded?
Dingler has been a proponent of opening a satellite office in the western part of the county, unsuccessfully requesting funding during the 2006 and 2007 budget years. She did not include the request during the 2008 budget cycle, due to the current economic crisis, but said if additional funds become available, she would like to revisit the issue in the future.
Your opponent has said he will push for more homestead exemptions for residents, particularly seniors. Do you believe the tax commissioner should take on such an advocacy role?
"My office is for the billing, collection and distribution of all taxes. We do not set values, assess taxes or set the millage rate," Dingler said. Exemptions can only be set by legislators, typically after they are approved via referendum by voters, she said.
If elected, what are your immediate goals?
Dingler said a top priority will be reinstituting credit card payments at the office.
The payment option has twice been implemented and twice taken out, she said.
Initially, the county paid service fees rather than pass them on to customers, but once the fees topped $20,000, commissioners opted not to use taxpayer money to pay for the convenience of credit card payments, Dingler said.
Later, the payment option was reinstated, with the fees passed on to customers, but was removed in April due to prohibition on governments charging flat fees.
Now, there is a pilot program that will allow governments to charge a percentage fee for counter sales, which Dingler would like to see implemented in Newton County.
"We have citizens who want to pay by credit cards," she said.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: The Dingler File
· Age: 50
· Party: Republican
· Occupation: Newton County Tax Commissioner
· Education: Newton High School graduate; multiple continuing education classes at University of Georgia
· Political and community experience: Served as tax commissioner for the past nine years; member of the Georgia Association of Tax Officials, the Tax Commissioners Technology Development Council of Georgia and the Constitutional Officers Association of Georgia; member of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce and the Newton County Republican Party.
· Family: Husband Keith; two children, Melissa and David
· Phone number: 770-787-1100