Jefferson County, AL Assistant Tax Assessor
The Assistant Tax Assessor collects data for the Bessemer Cut-Off District and maintains all exemptions and real and personal tax records for this division as per the Code of Alabama. The office records all property changes including ownership, improvements, address change, and the use of a property. Homestead exemptions are renewed annually in this office. This office also maintains the GIS (Geographical Information Systems) maps for the area.The Assistant Tax Assessor of Jefferson County, AL is elected for a four-year term. The jurisdiction of the office is the Bessemer Cut-off Division of Jefferson Co., AL. However, all voters in Jefferson County vote on this office, i.e. voters in both the Birmingham Division and Bessemer Cut-off Division vote on this office.
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Charles R. Winston
How has your training, professional experience, and interests prepared you to serve as Jefferson County Assistant Tax Assessor?
What do you think is the greatest service the Assistant Tax Assessor provides to the public?
What do you see as the greatest challenges facing the Assistant Tax Assessor's office and what steps would you take to solve those challenges?
Cybersecurity is an ever-increasing threat. What steps would you take to ensure that our financial information is protected?
I am a local Realtor in the area who has been serving the public in that capacity for the last 4 years now and love it. I’m a Christian and I attend Smithville Baptist Church. I’m a member of oak grove Masonic Lodge #617. I grew up around my relatives who were public servants and I always envied them for how passionate they were to serve the public and that got me motivated to do the same. I was also chosen as an Olympic Torch support runner when the torch made its way through Mobile, Al. in route to Salt Lake City Utah for the Winter Olympics. I was awarded the honor for being chosen as the most outstanding employee by the company I was with at the time. Once I earned my real estate license I left in order to pursue a real estate career and earned my company’s rookie of the year award my first year in Real estate.
To be available to the residents when they have concerns or questions. A lot of public officials feel once they are elected that makes them somehow special and above other people. I realize that it’s the public who has provided me with a job and that job is to serve them. So being available, and also being on top of daily operations to make sure they are done in a timely and efficient fashion.
The absolute biggest challenge is the back logged files. As I’ve stated I’m a Realtor in the area so I have to have dealings with the Assistant Tax Assessor’s office from time to time in my job. Well the last time I needed them I was calling to get a status on a parcel I.D. # I needed issues for a closing I had. I was informed that they were 281 files behind and this was before the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is absolutely my number 1 priority is getting the files caught up for the residents of the Bessemer cut-off. The way I do it goes back to my previous statement. Staying on top of daily operations so I make sure they are done in a timely and efficient fashion.
Cyber Security is definitely a threat. Luckily I worked in I.T. Previously and I know that the number one way to prevent hacking is not to have odd passwords but lengthy passwords. Each character Makes it much harder for hackers to be able to hack. Also with my experience in I.T. I made contacts with well respected cyber security companies And I would try and hire them to evaluate our system and fix any weak or vulnerable spots.
I have been the Tax Assessor-Bessemer Division since September 2015 after being elected November 2014. Prior to this position, I was elected four (4) times as a State Constable within Jefferson County. I have consistently sought extensive training from the Government & Economic Institute (GEDI) at Auburn University to improve my knowledge. I am currently a Certified Tax Administer candidate. I am a member of the Alabama Association of Tax Administrators (AATA) as well as the Alabama Association of Assessing Officials (AAAO). I have a master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling and a Doctor of Ministry. I am a Servant & Leader!
During my tenure as Tax Assessor-Bessemer Division, I have provided the public excellent customer service and competency. My goal has been to ensure taxpayers are knowledgeable about all exemptions for which they may qualify. I participate in church, community and Chamber events so that the public is consistently informed of our services. I am accessible and approachable. Taxpayers Matter.
Prior to taking office, maintaining updated records was a challenge. However, within thirty-days of being sworn in, Bessemer Cut-off records (Deeds, Exemptions, etc.) were caught up. This has been the case for the past five (5) years. I retrained and implemented cross training among the assessment clerks in addition to encouraging them to attend various classes offered by the GEDI or the Jefferson County Personnel Board. Our office has also remained caught up during the COVID-19 pandemic as well. This speaks volumes to the professional and competent employees of the Bessemer Tax Assessor’s office.
Jefferson County IT Department along with the County Manager and Commission expends a large budget to maintain and employ experts in Cybersecurity. The Tax Assessor does not handle financial information.
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