State of the County - May 2015
Submitted by Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman
One of the most important offices in the operation of any county is that of Collector of Revenue. Obviously it requires precise methods of accounting and bookkeeping regarding tax payer money. Thanks to the dedicated hard work of Newton County Collector Jim Otey, Newton County runs smoothly year round.
Jim Otey was sworn in as Collector of Revenue in March of 2003 and is currently serving his fourth term in office.
As collector, Jim and his staff are responsible for the collection and disbursement of tax monies collected for personal and real property and railroad and utility taxes. The office also issues merchant licenses, statements of non-assessment, and duplicate receipts. The collector’s office is also responsible for protecting the state’s lien on real estate that is owned by taxpayer’s who are delinquent in tax payments and, as a result, every August the office conducts the tax lien auction.
More than 37 million dollars in taxes was collected in 2014 with that money being sent to the county treasurer for disbursement to almost 40 different taxing entities who benefit from the payment of the tax bill. There are nine school districts, nine fire districts, and eight road districts among the almost 40 entities.
One of Jim’s goals after taking office was to oversee technological advancements in the office. 12 years later, payments are accepted online at www.newtoncountycollector.com, through an automated phone payment system, by mail and at the counter during normal business hours of 8:30a.m.-5:00p.m. The advancement in technology also allows for the use of credit and debit cards as payment choices by the taxpayer. Much of the escrow payment process is automated with the exchange of tax data done through electronic means.
In addition to collecting tax dollars for the county, the collector’s office contracts with seven cities and villages to collect municipality taxes which allows the city or village to streamline their efforts and provide residents with a convenience. Residents in Neosho, Joplin, Loma Linda, Seneca, Saginaw, Village of Leawood and most recently the Village of Shoal Creek Drive (starting in 2015) have their municipal tax included with their county tax bill.
In another effort to provide convenience to the tax payer the collector’s office cooperates with area department of revenue offices making all paid personal property records available to the Department of Revenue in Jefferson City for optional online look-up by fee agents and for use by tax payers who want to renew their tags online through the DOR.
As an active member of the Missouri County Collector’s Association Jim has served on numerous committee’s and was President of the association in 2011-12. Believing change was needed in how collector’s interacted with their Executive Board Jim devised a plan and rallied support to have each classification of county have its own representative on the board.
Jim serves on the board of directors of the Economic Security Corporation of Southwest Area. A community action agency ESC provides services for the elderly and low income individuals in Barton, Jasper, Newton and McDonald Counties. He is currently serving a two year term as Board President and enjoys meeting and working with the 23 other board members who come from elected offices, private interest, and low income representatives who have previously used services provided by the agency.
Originally from Overland Park, Kansas Jim is a 1983 graduate of Kansas State University and moved to Joplin in 1984 to work for KSNF-TV. Starting as a reporter Jim took on a variety of roles before assuming the duties of Sports Director from 1987-1997. It was in that job that Jim first met and worked with current Newton County Associate Commissioner Jim Jackson who along with Shari Sanders and Ken Ford formed a news team that many people remember today.
Jim has been married to the former Lynn Patterson for 21 years. They have a Daughter Lori and Grandson Gavin. Being a grandfather takes up much of Jim’s free time but he also manages to sneak in time to build, fly and often repair radio controlled airplanes and play an occasional round of golf.
The County says “Thanks Jim” for your professional services
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