Proposal Would Merge Madison County Tax Offices

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Tax assessor and tax collector. Some lawmakers say the two elected positions in Madison County are too expensive and unnecessary, with some now calling for the offices to be merged into one unit in order to save taxpayer dollars.

State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) is part of a group of state and local officials who are pushing for a bill that would pave the way for the tax assessor and tax collector offices to be consolidated. Rep. Ball said the decades-old system is outdated and costly, with the two offices often duplicating each other’s efforts due to highly similar job tasks.

If state lawmakers pass the yet-to-be filed bill, Madison County commissioners would have the authority to call a special election on the merger proposal, which could come as early as this fall. Madison County Chairman Dale Strong asked state legislators to pursue the bill, which Ball believes will save an untold amount of taxpayer money.

“Many other counties have done that,” said Ball, who added that the bill would be formally introduced in the legislature in a matter of weeks. “It would take a vote of the people for the people to decide if they want to consolidate the two…I think there’s some merit in the idea. A lot of their work is cyclical depending on the time of the year. By putting both of the personnel in the same office you get some economies from cross-training.”

Madison County Tax Assessor Fran Hamilton said she opposes the merger bill because it would open the door for less accountability on state audits. Hamilton has held the tax assessor post since 2003.

“I would not support passing a bill to combine the two offices,” said Hamilton. “I would not argue with the fact that it has been done successfully in many counties, but I prefer the checks and balances of two officials.”

Madison County Commissioners would have to approve the proposal by majority vote before it goes to public referendum.