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Victoria County Democratic Primary Tax Assessor/Collector candidate questionnaires

By Victoria Advocate
May 21, 2012 at 12:21 a.m.

Rena Scherer

Editor's Note: Early voting is May 14-25 for the May 29 general election. To help our readers learn more about candidates in the contested races, we will publish responses to the League of Women Voters questionnaire. Candidates Rena Scherer and Jane Bernal respond today.

• NAME: Rena Scherer

• AGE: 56

• OCCUPATION: Victoria County Tax Assessor-Collector

Background and Qualifications:

I am a certified registered Tax Assessor with thirty-one years of experience in Victoria County. I work closely with fourteen taxing entities to calculate the effective and rollback tax rates. I practice a strong adherence to the laws of the Texas Property Tax Code and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Why are you seeing this office?

I am an experienced and dedicated public servant with a sincere desire to continue to work for the citizens of Victoria County. In my position as Tax Assessor-Collector, I take seriously my role as an agent to the entities and our citizens. In addition, as agent for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, I have the responsibility of processing registration and titling for our residents. I want my knowledge, experience and dedication to continue to bring the highest level of service to Victoria County. I enjoy my job and serving the citizens of Victoria County.

What technology and/or service upgrades would you like to see made to the county tax office?

During subsequent terms, I have streamlined the process of providing information and documents via technology and access to our website. I have implemented online tax payments through a third-party provider and current vehicle registration with Texas Online. I am presently renovating my office and in the near future provide space where residents may research and access property tax records at their convenience. Recognizing budgets play a factor; my next goal is provide a drive-up window. Technology, access and convenience will provide a quicker and more efficient service.

Are there any taxing changes forthcoming that will affect county taxpayers? If, so what are they and how would you address their implementation?

Since this is an election year, it is unlikely. We will be made aware of any new laws or changes after the next legislative process. I can assure the residents, whether I believe the changes are good or not, I recognize my responsibility to abide by them. The real key in these changes remains in my role and responsibility to explain to and educate our citizens. I take advantage of every opportunity to make residents aware they may be eligible for tax breaks, such as over 65 or homestead exemptions. It is a practice I will continue.

• NAME: Jane Bernal

• AGE: 53

• OCCUPATION: Assistant chief court clerk, justice of the peace Precinct 1 office

Background and Qualifications:

I am a Victoria County native and an active member of our school and church community. For 26 years, I worked for Victoria ISD and Bloomington ISD. I currently serve as precinct Assistant Chief Court Clerk and have extensive experience managing offices, maintaining financial accountability, and prioritizing customer service.

Why are you seeing this office?

I have never run for political office before. I'm not a politician or a bureaucrat. I am running because I want to serve my fellow hardworking taxpayers of Victoria County. To maximize effectiveness, I believe it is necessary to remain dynamic particularly in an office that requires high-levels of accountability, transparency, and innovation. I believe I can bring this needed change to the office. I will work with you to ensure that our taxes are being used to support the important services we need and care about: our schools, our police, our public safety.

What technology and/or service upgrades would you like to see made to the county tax office?

Customer service is one of my top priorities. I will enhance the Tax Assessor-Collector website to make it more interactive, will provide all forms electronically, and make it easier to conduct business online. I will also commit myself to continuing to identity new technologies to create ease of use for taxpayers, and efficiencies for the County. For those residents who would rather handle business in person, I will enhance office hours to support our busiest hours to expedite your trip. I will also develop a customer feedback and comment system to hear directly from residents on an ongoing basis.

Are there any taxing changes forthcoming that will affect county taxpayers? If, so what are they and how would you address their implementation?

Recently, the State passed legislation that allows Tax Collectors to use email to deliver tax bills. Upon taking office, I will immediately investigate this as an opportunity to save money. Paper bills will continue to be an option, but for those who wish to utilize a paperless option I will make it possible. Legislation was also passed that extends protections of tax exemptions for veterans with a service-related disability. I will work to make sure eligible residents are fully informed, and that information on laws that support our taxpayers is swiftly noticed.

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