Collector & Assessor Annex

You may have heard the Assessor and Collector offices will be moving into an Annex here in Richmond.  We spoke with an architect last week and will receive a cost estimate in the near future. I will post updates as we proceed.  This annex will not be a burden on you, the taxpayer.  There will be no tax increase and no funds targeted from County General Revenue to pay for this annex.   The Assessor and I are determined to stick to a modest budget.  If we determine the cost exceeds our budget, we will terminate the process.

For some time, I have been thinking about the possibility of an annex.  First and foremost, accessibility. As you know, for a long time we were limited to one door.  I saw taxpayer after taxpayer being searched, have normal pocket knives (that all farmers carry), perfume bottles, etc. confiscated or made to return to their vehicle; and women not allowed to bring in their purse.  Then came Covid, closings, and maintaining a safe distance became important.  I realize those days are in the past, however, for other unforeseen reasons it seems entrance is limited to 1 or 2 doors.   From the perspective of a disabled person or senior citizen, I would imagine that makes coming to the courthouse a challenge.  In addition, there are very few disabled parking spots, high curbs, steps and a long walk around the building.  That being said, I feel like it’s a common struggle for all of us to find a parking spot, which in turn leaves parking for local businesses around the square at a minimum.

The courthouse was built over a 100 years ago, long before computers, networks, printers and copiers.  The demands of today’s technology create havoc on an old building.  On a daily basis we experience problems when we use our office equipment.  I feel like the problem will only worsen; as technology is always changing and becoming more complex.

Linda and I want to create a user-friendly space with plenty of parking for all, easy entrance, counters accessible for disabled or taxpayers who just need to sit down and plenty of space and improvements that allow us to operate our offices at a very efficient level.   I am also excited to offer a drive through window to pay taxes.  I know as a mother of twins, anytime I was able to use a drive through was a blessing!  The building will be equipped with security, as in panic buttons and automatic doors that lockdown, in other words, ways that do not make our taxpayers feel violated.  All of these things are practical and beneficial on an everyday basis, but I believe will also give us an advantage should we ever experience anything like “Covid” or any other unforeseeable circumstance in the future.

I am asking that you keep an open mind, stayed tuned for updates and come see us when it’s completed!

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Ray County Collector of Revenue.  I truly appreciate your support and I will always strive to do my best for you and our community! 

–Julie Chowning