Candidates for Cobb tax commissioner face off in forum

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Candidates for Cobb County Tax Commissioner faced off, giving their takes on how to run and improve the office, during a forum at Grace City Church on May 2, 2024.

Democrat Jan Becker is challenging incumbent Carla Jackson, the first time in decades that Cobb’s tax commissioner is challenged in an election cycle.

Prior to this year’s election cycle, Jackson ran unopposed as a Republican in 2016 and 2020. However, this cycle, she chose to run as a Democrat, where she is now challenged by Becker, a retired employee of the tax commissioner’s office.

“I am running as the only true Democrat,” Becker said. “This year, 2024, is a historical year for Cobb in that I’m running against the current tax commissioner.”

On Becker’s website, she describes Tammy Summers as a “running mate.” Together the duo have a combined 40 years of experience in the Tax Commissioner office, and they put aside retirement to launch Becker’s run for the Tax Commissioner position.

“What does it tell you that two different people are willing to put aside their retirement benefits, put them on hold and return to work?” she said.

The tax commissioner’s office receives tax returns, maintains tax records, and disburses tax funds. The office is divided into two separate divisions: the property tax division and the motor vehicle division.

To kick things off, moderator and President of the League of Women Voters Georgia, Nichola Hines, fielded questions from the two candidates.

Jackson highlighted the importance of a high tax collection rate.

Incumbent Carla Jackson

It is integral to ensure a consistent high property tax collection rate, to ensure SPLOST and sales taxes can go further in funding projects in the county, Jackson said.

“And just to be clear, our current collection rate is above, right at just under 99%, we’re about at 98.7% collection rate,” she said.

Whereas, Becker said, If elected, she would ensure accurate and fiscally sound tax collection.

“I would work diligently to fulfill my duties, one, to collect taxes accurately and in a fiscally sound and accountable manner, and two, to plan for the tax commissioner’s office and carry out its roles and responsibilities in presenting a budget to the BOC (Board of Commissioners) that will manage, that I will manage in a fiscally sound and responsible manner, providing for adequate staffing and other needs of the office,” she said.

Challenger Jan Becker

Tax Commissioner Office Improvements

Each candidate brought forth ideas for office improvements. If elected, Becker would like to build on current procedures through staff collaboration.

“I would start with a complete realignment of staff and get together with them to determine what is working, what is not, because I’ve gone around for over three years. And in a collaborative approach, we would decide together what improvements are needed and how to make those work,” Becker said.

However, Jackson said she would continue to benchmark Cobb’s performance to other counties, cut out operations in the office that are not legally necessary and continue to improve customer service.

Jackson’s current plan goes back to when she was Chief Deputy in the office, “We took a look at every operational area in the office and weeded out those that were mandated versus those that were not. And went back to what the law says our department should be doing and those functions and issues that we should not be dealing with or addressing or performing… The other thing that we do that I do consistently is benchmarking with other counties.”

“I want to make sure that we do is when you come into our office, you feel like you are getting your money’s worth for the salaries that you pay in our office because I do believe that you do hire us and you do pay our salaries and we need to handle ourselves in a manner that you are the boss,” Jackson said.

“For the first time in decades, Cobb voters have a chance to actually choose their tax commissioner,” Becker said.