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Catoe, Ives-Dykes in Treasurer race

Posted: June 5, 2014 4:39 p.m.
Updated: June 6, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Q: What do you feel is the most important function of the Treasurer’s Office.

Jill Catoe: The most important function of the Treasurer’s Office is to collect property taxes and to receive other city, county, and state revenue and properly disperse it to the appropriate entities.

Heather Ives-Dykes: The Treasurer’s Office is a multifaceted office that is vitally important to county government operation. The office is responsible for collecting taxes and fees, as well as distributing those taxes to school districts, municipalities and special purpose districts. The office also serves as a custodian for all funds received on behalf of Kershaw County and is in charge of investing the funds to generate additional revenue. I personally believe that all the functions and duties of the treasurer are essential and important.

Q: Why do you feel you are more qualified than your opponent to handle that and the other functions of the Treasurer’s Office?

Catoe: I have worked in the Treasurer’s Office for 15 years, with 14 of those years as the deputy treasurer. I have a thorough knowledge of each position in the office and work amicably and efficiently with the employees of the office, as well as other county and state offices.

Ives-Dykes: I believe my strong leadership, business and financial experience make me more qualified than my opponent to handle the duties of the treasurer’s office. I will bring to the office an extensive background in property management, collections, and financial planning and investments. Due to the economic challenges that we face, experience is important, but it is imperative that we move beyond the ordinary routine in pursuit of every avenue possible to meet the needs of taxpayers. In addition, I will be aggressive in managing the resources for the citizens of Kershaw County.

Q: What changes, if any, would you like to make to improve the Treasurer’s Office and its relationships with the public and other Kershaw County government offices?

Catoe: I have been instrumental in many improved changes to the Treasurer’s Office over the last 10 years, including dispersing DMV decals, online payments through our website, and being the first in the state to use tough-book computers to pinpoint property for posting/data collection. I will continue to look for ways to improve customer service, as well as, look for ways to save the county money.

Ives-Dykes: My goal is to be dedicated in increasing revenues through investment strategies and providing more payment options. I plan to reach out to banks and other financial institutions to find safe reliable investments, which will benefit all taxpayers. I would like to implement payment options that are available, but not currently being utilized. Whether we like it or not, smartphones, iPads and computers are used more and more in everyday life. I would like to expand the offices use of technology, so that citizens may pay their taxes by mobile devices.

In addition, I would recommend that we add an electronic check option of paying a flat fee versus using a credit card when its convenience fee is higher. I will lead the effort for the office to accept installment payments on real property. This option will essentially benefit seniors, investment property owners and businesses that might feel the cash flow strain during the holiday season when taxes are due. The installment program is not a new concept, but it was approved by the State Legislature years ago. In an effort to strengthen relationships with the public, I am proposing that we explore other avenues for taxpayers to make payments. Such avenues would include an option to allow taxpayers to pay taxes at an approved bank that is presently being used by the county. This will be a convenience for citizens who do not live within close proximity of the Kershaw County Government Center.

I will be proactive in enriching the relationship with other government offices and elected officials. I believe transparency, communication, and taking an active role in attending meetings is the first step in improving these relationships.

Q: It has come to light that Kershaw County is behind many others in collecting assessed taxes. What can be done to improve that figure?

Catoe: We follow state law for collecting taxes. Before 2008, our collection percentage was 97 percent. Since the housing market fall and the economic decline, our percentage has dropped. It is currently 93 percent. However, our county’s collection percentage is comparable to other counties our size. As the economy recovers, our percentage of taxes collected should increase. Our office is, and will continue, to abide by all state laws with regard to collecting taxes.

Ives-Dykes: Kershaw County’s collection of delinquent taxes is currently 92 percent, which is significantly lower than our neighboring counties and the state’s average of 98 percent. This is costing the taxpayers of Kershaw County an estimated quarter of a million dollars a year. Delinquent taxes and uncollected taxes affect every citizen in Kershaw County. As treasurer, it is imperative that the delinquency issue is resolved immediately. Providing multiple payment options, personal communication, and working with local and state lawmakers in regards to collection laws, is a start to improving our current delinquent status. I plan to build an office that is accountable, responsive, and reflective of the needs of every citizen in Kershaw County.

Q: What is something most residents wouldn’t know about you?

Catoe: In the middle to late 1890s, my Great-Grandfather Jimmy Tidwell was among the charter members who donated land and established Beaverdam Baptist Church in Cassatt, where I have been a lifetime member. I currently serve as the choir director and music director.

Ives-Dykes: Most people wouldn’t know that I have a passion for working in my yard and reading historical novels. When I have the opportunity to be home and not running around to my son’s baseball tournaments or daughter’s cheerleading competitions I enjoy watching the History Channel.

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