Gail Teegarden (far left), programs director for the Burnet County Republican Women, welcomes the three GOP candidates for the office of county tax assessor-collector during a forum on Feb. 8. Vying to replace retiring Tax Assessor-Collector Sheri Frazier are (from left at table) DeAnne Fisher, Adrienne Field, and Susan Allen. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
The first thing some people learned at the Burnet County Republican Women’s candidates forum on Thursday, Feb. 8, was that the county tax assessor-collector does not assess or collect property taxes.
“That’s been done by the (Burnet) Central Appraisal District since 1980,” said Susan Allen, one of three women seeking the open position. “Our biggest responsibility is in vehicle titles and handicapped parking. We are strictly (Texas Department of Motor Vehicles oriented).”
Also vying to replace current Tax Assessor-Collector Sheri Frazier, who is retiring from the position after 32 years, are Adrienne Field and DeAnne Fisher.
The primary election is March 5 with early voting from Feb. 20-March 1. The winner will most likely become Burnet County’s new tax assessor-collector in January 2025 as no Democrat has filed to run for the office.
All three Republican candidates have extensive experience in city and county government.
Allen is Burnet County’s chief deputy tax assessor-collector and runs the office in the South Annex in Marble Falls. She has been with the office for 19 years. She and her husband have lived in Horseshoe Bay for 30 years. They have three grown children.
Field is the current airport manager for the city of Burnet, for which she was also a senior accountant. Before that, she worked in the county clerk’s office as assistant chief deputy auditor. She and her husband moved to Lake Victor in 2011. They have two sons, ages 8 and 3.
Fisher currently serves as the chief deputy treasurer for Burnet County. She grew up in the county and has been married for 37 years. She and her husband have three grown sons.
Burnet County Court at Law Judge Cody Henson served as moderator for the Feb. 8 forum, which filled the Reed Building in Burnet with spectators, elected officials, and candidates for other offices. Questions included addressing the biggest challenges of the tax assessor-collector in a growing county, how the candidates would handle those issues, and how they would improve the office if elected.
“I would take down the plexiglass walls between the employees and the people,” said Fisher, referring to barriers erected during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It doesn’t aid human interaction. People are hungry for good customer service. I want people to leave that office and say, ‘Now, that was easy.’”
Field responded that it would be irresponsible to say how she would improve the office since she has not worked there.
“It’s a well-run office already,” she continued. “I would get in there and learn it as fast as I can and build a good relationship with the employees.”
Allen thanked Field for the compliment, noting that training in the next few years would be key because at least half of the current staff has only been in the office for about a year.
“We have a young staff,” she said. “My goals would be to work in both offices (Burnet and Marble Falls) and work with them one on one. I also teach people, showing people how to transfer titles properly and in a way that saves them money.”
As for how population growth will affect Burnet County, Allen noted that the Texas Department of Public Safety wants to combine its driver’s license duties with the tax assessor-collector. She also pointed to a rise in car thefts related to growth.
“In the last two years, we’ve had increased stolen vehicles and title problems,” she said. “We work closely with the Heart of Texas Auto Theft Task Force. On a plus side, though, a lot of people are coming in who are super nice and love this community.”
Fisher suggested leaving the office open until 6 p.m., a one-hour extension, at least one day a week for residents who do not get off of work until 5 p.m.
“It’s important to home in on what services are needed,” she said. “We may need to look at the budget for more staff.”