Vernon: Thank you for trusting me as treasurer, tax collector for 12 years (Opinion)

Tina M. Vernon / Guest column
Tina Vernon

I wish to thank you for entrusting me as your Nevada County treasurer and tax collector for the last 12 years. When I ran for my fourth term, I intended to serve another four years, but there have been changes in my life that need my attention. Therefore, I will be retiring from my post on April 28. This decision is bittersweet and not an easy one to make but I have learned from a young age that life is too short, and you only have one shot at it.

I am proud to have served this county for over 22 years and I know in my heart that I have always put my best foot forward. I have worked with so many amazing people and have met so many of our wonderful Nevada County citizens along the way. I will look back and have so many stories to tell and will wonder how we even weathered some of the storms that we have faced during the two decades I served Nevada County. I know it could not have been possible without the vigilance and persistence of the amazing team that I have been proud to serve beside. My mighty staff of eight will carry on and I know that you will be left in good hands.

As I ponder the last 12 years, I am proud to recognize that my office has achieved many accomplishments, faced some challenging economic times, learned along the way and grown into an amazing team. The work that they put in every day is beyond amazing and nothing could have been accomplished without them.

On the treasury side, we have worked diligently to build a strong portfolio, have steered away from emotional and reactive investing, and have held steadfast with our investment strategies. This dedication and determination has allowed us to fair far better than many other municipalities as we cycled through both good and bad economic times and has protected us from undue risk. By not wavering from our principles and by putting our taxpayer funds to work, these investments have earned over $33M in interest earnings since 2011 even throughout the lowest interest rate environment in decades. These earnings are crucial in the funding of schools, public safety, and essential county services.

On the tax side, we have applied the laws fairly and equally to all taxpayers. Although the answer was not always what constituents wanted to hear, it was fairly applied to all. This small office diligently collected over $330 million annually in property related taxes, always putting the public first by providing education on property tax laws and assisting those that were struggling, offering installment plans and other programs to help those that came upon hard times. When laws did not make sense or when they needed to adapt to changing environments, we became the voice for this community, representing our interests at the State level.

From an administrative standpoint, my office brought online an innovative property tax system enabling an option for online payments, streamlined the processing of payments, developed a cannabis tax collection division and enhanced technology in collecting Transient Occupancy Taxes. Making public accessibility simple and more efficient has been a top priority.

For the past 8 years I have been an officer on the Executive Committee of our statewide association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors. I was proud to serve as President during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, commonly referred to as the Year of the Pandemic.

During my term as CACTTC president, I witnessed so much devastation to businesses and families, at a time when laws governing this office were not flexible enough to assist those in need. I was proud to be part of a statewide effort to adopt legislation that allowed tax collectors to help suffering communities by waiving property tax penalties for financial reasons resulting from the pandemic. Our office was able to waive penalties for over 1,200 Nevada County affected properties and businesses.

I have strived to remain accessible to all constituents, serve with compassion and empathy and educate the public on confusing property tax laws so that they can avoid costly penalties. I pride myself in the relationships built with the public, and the many municipalities that we serve beside and will truly miss this part of my life.

I leave my post knowing that you will be left in the amazing hands of my remarkable staff. This group of hard-working dedicated professionals will continue to serve our County well. It is my hope that our Board of Supervisors will appoint Michelle Bodley, the Assistant Treasurer & Tax Collector and my right arm, to fill out my term. Michelle brings over 18 years experience of advanced finance and accounting skills. She understands the laws that we are bound by and the investment strategies that have served us well. Her experience as the Assistant for the past 6 years gives her the experience of the technical duties of this office, crucial to the financial health of this county.

Her experience is something that cannot be gained without doing the job. Michellewillcontinue to put the public first always. She is humble, compassionate, intelligent, and well-seasoned in the areas of treasury and tax. You will not be disappointed with her work ethic and dedication to this community. I whole-heartedly believe she is the best person to fulfill this position and will serve this community well.

Tina Vernon is stepping at treasurer and tax collector after 12 years with Nevada County.

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