There’s not a new sheriff in town, but Mount Airy does have a new tax collector.
Shannon Phipps was administered the oath of office for that position Thursday afternoon during a meeting of the city council.
Phipps actually was hired as tax collector in January, but not officially sworn in until now, which, the person formerly working in that capacity explained, coincides with the start of the 2020-21 fiscal year in Mount Airy on July 1.
She is replacing Sherri Abbott, who served as revenue collector for six years. Abbott has been promoted to the position of staff accountant in the city Finance Department.
Phipps previously worked for the municipality, serving with Mount Airy Parks and Recreation for 11 years.
The new tax collector is a graduate of North Surry High School and Surry Community College, where she studied business administration.
Abbott, the person formerly holding that job, drew praise Thursday afternoon for the work she has done from Finance Director Pam Stone, whose department covers revenue collection along with budgetary functions, water-sewer billing, the preparation of financial reports and more.
Mount Airy’s property tax-collection rate in recent years has been in the 98% range. This traditionally reflects an intent by the person responsible for that to make sure everyone pays their fair share through a variety of means at his or her disposal.
After Thursday’s meeting, Phipps addressed the notion that a tax collector might not be the most popular figure in town, which some will say ranks about the same as dog catcher as far as an individual folks don’t want to have on their case.
“That’s OK,” Phipps responded. “I’ve got a good teacher (Abbott) — we’ll make it work.”
Mayor David Rowe administered the oath of office for the tax collector Thursday with assistance from Commissioner Ron Niland, who also serves as mayor pro tem for the city.
“I appreciate what you do,” Rowe told Phipps, adding jokingly, “and my check is in the mail.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.