Satellite offices a big hit
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
The words "convenience" and "service" took on a new meaning for residents of Hartselle and surrounding areas when the satellite offices of the Morgan County license and revenue commissioners opened in Crestwood Shopping Center in September 2001.
To pay your property taxes or file for a senior homestead exemption before then meant you had to go to the Morgan County Courthouse in Decatur and possibly have to wait in line before you could transact your business. If you needed to renew your driver's license or automobile tag, you either had to go to the courthouse or C&S Foodland in Hartselle where space was restricted and no seating was provided for those waiting their turn to get inside.
"The satellite office has proved to be very successful," said Amanda Scott, revenue commissioner. Residents go there because of its convenience. They can easily find a place to park in front of the building and go right in and take care of business."
"It also has reduced the workload at the courthouse office and made it easier and quicker for residents to do business there, especially during peak times when people are paying their property taxes," she added.
The same is true for people who are buying licenses, according to Sue Roan, license commissioner.
"It's so much easier today to buy a tag than it was a few years back when everybody had to go to the courthouse to buy theirs within the same month. People would have to stand in line for hours before they could get waited on," Roan said.
The opening of a satellite license office in Hartselle in 1990 helped alleviate the problem. Located in an enclosed corner of the former C&S Foodland, it was well received by residents of the Hartselle area and soon became the place to go to conduct business with the license commissioner. The need for more space and customer convenience prompted the move to Crestwood Shopping Center.
"Our present location is a great place for our employees as well as the residents of Hartselle and surrounding communities," Roan stated. "It's comfortable and convenient. You can always find an empty parking space nearby and if you need to sit while you wait we have chairs inside to accommodate you."
"When I'm out on the street I have people all the time tell me how much they appreciate being able to buy their licenses and pay their taxes in Hartselle," she added.
Scott said her office collected between $6 and $7 million in property tax payments at the satellite office in 2004.
Roan reported that 44,000 of the county's 127,000 automobile license plates sold were purchased in Hartselle last year.
Scott said moving the revenue office closer to the citizens of Morgan County was a goal she set for herself when she was elected revenue commissioner eight years ago. With the satellite office, taxpayers may now choose either Decatur or Hartselle as the place to pay their property taxes in person or use their computer and pay them online. They also may go to the Internet to access tax information.
Robert Beavers of Oden Ridge said he prefers the Hartselle office over the courthouse because it is more convenient and saves him time and money. He added that the distance is more important now than ever because of the high price of gasoline.
Carolyn Holmes of Eva said, "We're retired and have to go to the revenue office to claim a homestead exemption on our s ate property tax as well as to pay our taxes. All of us out here go to the Hartselle office because it's closer and more convenient."
"I have a mobile home, two vehicles and a boat and I buy all of my tags here. It just makes good sense," said Kelly Sanderfer of Hartselle.
"I prefer coming here over going to the courthouse because it's more convenient and I save time because of less traffic," stated Jim Ramos of Danville.