Two candidates in running for county tax collector

Published 11:43 am Monday, October 31, 2011

Two candidates are seeking the position of Warren County tax collector. They are Democrat Antonia Flaggs Jones, 39, the incumbent, and Republican Patty Mekus, 45.

1. Tax collectors in Mississippi receive payments of property taxes and fees on real estate and vehicles for the county. In Warren County, the tax collector is contracted to do the same for the City of Vicksburg. What kind of background would you bring to the office to perform those duties?

Jones: As tax collector, I bring the ability to conduct unbiased research on the city and county’s tax collections. I have 17 years in this office working with citizens and local businesses to ensure that taxes are collected accurately and timely. Within the past two years, I have received two financial audits with no findings of irregularities. My strongest attribute is my ability to lead my staff through such a remarkable set of standards just as I was trained by Ms. Patricia Simrall in 1994. In conclusion, my staff and I would like to continue to serve in the Tax Collector’s office.

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Mekus: Checks and balances are essential for any position. In my past business experiences I have collected funds for major projects, developed and maintained balanced budgets while having a good work rapport with the public. I have over 22 years of experience in retail management, grant administration, fundraising, public relations and have successfully worked with government at the local, state and federal levels. I will bring business knowledge, proven quality customer service and skills for budget management to the office of tax collector.

2. Technology has changed the way Warren County residents pay their taxes. Many renew car tags and pay property taxes online. What ways can the office maintain quality customer service for those who choose to pay in person at the courthouse?

Jones: Since 1994, I have developed a personal relationship with the citizens of Warren County. This office will continue to provide fast and courteous service to everyone that enters the courthouse doors. I’ve done my best to maintain and keep the Warren County Tax Collector’s Office up to the forefront in the great State of Mississippi. However, I still cherish the face-to-face interactions with our customers that can never be replaced with technology. My staff and I will always ensure and guarantee professional service to this great county.

Mekus: I have a low tolerance for poor customer service. You have a choice in where you shop, but unfortunately, you don’t have a choice in paying your taxes. Prompt, friendly, knowledgeable service is the only acceptable response. Once in office, determining the areas of improvement will be one priority. Many things may be done right, but it certainly doesn’t mean they cannot be done better. Business practices and ways to maintain quality customer service should be re-evaluated on a regular basis.

3. What personal qualities would you bring to the office that are most important for those who do business with the office in person?

Jones: Personal qualities that my staff and I bring to the office would be our integrity. My personal motto and expectations of my staff are to always do what’s right even when nobody is looking. The citizens of Warren County can always trust that I will aggressively protect their money and their best interest as long as I’m granted the position of tax collector. In conclusion, my staff and I would like to continue serving in the capacity as your tax collector.

Mekus: In every position that I have held, from working in retail sales and retail management, public affairs for the City of Vicksburg, grant writing and fundraising, I have always set high standards for myself. I know the importance of treating every taxpayer with complete respect. I promise to maintain an equal balance between professionalism and compassion, and not to be selective. It is important to always remember that each taxpaying citizen pays the salaries of everyone in government and this must be conveyed to everyone working in the tax collector’s office. I promise to be prudent with every tax dollar.