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County hires veteran tax chief

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

After a roughly six-month search process, Lincoln County has a new tax administrator.

Clyde “Kep” Kepley, who is currently serving in the same position for Chowan County, has been appointed to fill the post, left vacant after Madge Huffman resigned in September. Jon Stephens, the county’s chief appraiser, has been filling in as the interim tax chief.

Kepley’s appointment by the Board of Commissioners, which came following a unanimous vote Monday night, will be for the remainder of Huffman’s term, through the end of June, and then for a full four-year term beginning July 1.

Commissioner Carl Robinson, who headed the committee in charge of finding the replacement, said the county had 38 applicants for the position. That number was pared down to seven, with the top three candidates then interviewed by the entire board, he said.

A closed session prior to the vote was conducted for the purpose of discussing the expectations surrounding the tax administrator post, Chairman Alex Patton said.

Patton stressed that moving forward, there would be a greater focus on the customer-service aspect of the job and creating a more customer-friendly environment.

“You will see an improvement,” he added.

Kepley, who will receive an annual salary of $73,021, said he hopes to start work either the second or third week in April. He noted that working for a larger county like Lincoln will present new opportunities and challenges that will allow him to hone his skills.

He has previously served as tax administrator for Scotland, Lee and Rutherford counties and is fully certified by the North Carolina Department of Revenue, as required by state statutes. He is a graduate of Western Carolina University.

Asked about what he hopes to bring to his new role, he said he will first have to assess the current situation to identify any issues that may need correcting. Nonetheless, he plans to start dealing with any weaknesses within the Tax Administration Department on an individual basis, noting that this will take some time.

“I’m thrilled for the opportunity,” he added.

County Manager George Wood issued a statement Tuesday regarding the appointment.

“We are very pleased to have Mr. Kepley join the county’s management team,” he said. “He brings a very solid background in tax administration, and we are confident he will do a very good job for the citizens of this county.”

In other Board of Commission action at Monday’s meeting:

Commissioners unanimously approved an addendum for Phase II of Airlie Business Park at Ingleside.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to defer proposed changes to the county’s medical insurance plan to their committee on employee benefits.

Commissioners unanimously signed off on two leases for emergency communications towers, one on Killian Farm Road and another on Fish Pond Road.

Commissioners discussed Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) boundaries following the recent notification that Cleveland County may be moving forward with an injunction in federal court related to those boundaries. Depending on Cleveland County’s actions, if any, Lincoln County would need to be ready to react moving forward, Interim Planning Director Andrew Bryant told the board. Though no action was required, commissioners agreed to opt for the whole county entering the Gaston Urbanized Area MPO should Cleveland County successfully do the same, as it has indicated it would like to do. Currently, Lincoln County is a member of both the Mecklenburg-Union MPO and the Southwestern Piedmont RPO.

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