Since taking office as Denton County’s tax assessor/collector, Michelle French has been looking for ways to better her department.
On Tuesday, commissioners voted unanimously to approve her plan to improve county tax service and even save the county money.
“We’re moving away from a departmental philosophy to a functional philosophy,” French said.
Further elaborating, French said the way the department was run before was with a vehicle department and property department and full support staff.
The process to combine the two is one she has been working on for several weeks, she said.
“We literally combined functions, and we have teamed up the department heads so we can have the ability to manage the department as a whole, not just manage the motor vehicle in one manner and property in another manner,” she said.
French said the policies of the departments were sometimes confusing for employees of the satellite tax offices, which deal with customers of both departments.
With the new setup, French said employees could assist almost any customer with any type of transaction using a single clerk, rather than going from department to department.
“Not only has that assisted us in being able to better provide a more well-rounded customer service atmosphere, it has allowed us to start a true cross-training service with our clerks, so they have a broader scope of knowledge functionally as opposed to departmentally,” French said.
The changes offer the tax office staff a chance to grow within the organization, she said.
French also told commissioners her plan would give money back to the county as well.
One way was to bring in her chief deputy replacement at a lower salary than French had in the position and downgrading another position.
“I am not asking for that money to be retooled or given to another budget line item to use somewhere else,” she said. “I am more than happy to give that back to the county. No one has lost their position; they are simply functioning in a different capacity.”
Even though she voted to approve the plan, Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell took some issue with the timing of the agenda item. Mitchell said she preferred to handle matters to do with salary during the budget phase, but added that there were times when officials simply could not wait. This was one of those times.
County Judge Mary Horn said French had previously spoken to her about the proposed changes for the tax office.
“I thought it was a great idea and a great plan,” Horn said. “And a lot she has already put into place and it seems to be working great. I am proud of her.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .