Petersburg preparing for changes in the way the city collects taxes

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — City leaders in Petersburg are preparing to change they way they collect taxes after city council recently voted to designate someone other than the treasurer’s office.

A new city treasurer will be elected in November, but once they take office next year, they will have far fewer duties than the person holding the office right now.

Inside the City Treasurer’s Office, staff works under the direction of Kevin Brown to bring in money owed to the city, but come October that will change.

“The City Manager will now have two titles, one is City Manager the other is Collector of City Taxes,” explained, Robert Bobb, head of the city’s turnaround group. “Those functions that are currently being performed by the city treasurer will migrate to the city manager’s chief financial officer.”

Bobb says once city council gets approval from the General Assembly, the city treasurer will then only mainly be responsible for helping citizens with their state income taxes and issuing things like hunting and fishing licenses.

“Citizens will still be able to come to the City Treasurer’s Office to pay their bills, but it will be a much better-managed process because the city’s finance director will know when there is a surge of citizens coming to pay their bills and they will be able to plan for it and to provide services and back up services for the cashiers,” Bobb added.

Bobb says that should mean shorter wait times. The tax collector will only mainly be responsible for collecting current taxes; the more than 11 million dollars in delinquent taxes will be handled separately.

“The new structure does call for the outsourcing of the collection of delinquent taxes,” Bobb said.

The city manager says everyone should expect to see a smooth transition.

“We are still one city, the City of Petersburg, and so in the past we have worked together and we will continue to work together with the treasurer’s office and the collector’s office and all of our functions in finance,” City Manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides said. “We’ll all continue to work together as one team to make sure that our residents do not suffer or have any problems with this transition.”

The Robert Bobb group says they hope to have full implementation of the new tax collector position by October 1.

Robert Bobb says no employees of the treasurer’s office will lose their jobs; they will transition to helping the new tax collector’s office.

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