Charles Rosson sees his candidacy for Louisa County Commissioner of the Revenue as a chance to bring some fresh ideas to the office.
“With a lot of the constitutional officers, the incumbent steps aside and the deputy moves into the job. I can see that rewards loyalty, but it really stifles innovation,” he said.
Stacey Fletcher is the current commissioner, overseeing a staff of 12. She took the position on January 1 when Nancy Pleasants retired after 27 years in the role. Fletcher, who has been in the office herself for more than two decades, says she is bringing continuity to her department. Rosson believes there is room for a different perspective.
Rosson actually ran for commissioner once before in 1991, the year that Pleasants won the job. At the time, Rosson was a recent college graduate looking to carry on a budding career as a public servant. Since then he’s served as a Farm Bureau insurance agent, mayor of the town of Louisa and, for the past 17 years, the county’s agricultural extension agent.
Rosson and Fletcher will be joined in this fall’s election for commissioner by Dan Braswell, a defense intelligence specialist and relative newcomer to Louisa who is running as a Republican.
The commissioner is responsible for managing real estate and personal property assessment and numerous other taxes and fees such as the meals tax and contractor’s licenses. The office assesses property value and the treasurer’s office collects taxes based on that value.
Rosson describes himself as a “big-picture” person. As mayor from 2000 to 2004, he led the town’s redevelopment of the former Louisa High School building into its current use as the town hall. Part of this project involved turning the school’s former auditorium into the theatre that now serves the Louisa Arts Center. Rosson was also involved in creating the town hall park, now a popular destination for families, and the town’s purchase of what is now called Alberts Field for use as a ballpark.
“We got a ton of stuff accomplished,” Rosson said. “I really pushed people to think about what the town could be.”
Rosson has his eye on everyday practices in the commissioner’s office he believes could be improved. As an example, he pointed to the forms citizens fill out every spring and submit to the commissioner with information about their personal property, which for most people is their cars or boats.
“If you’ve done it once, why do you have to keep filling out the forms, when that information should be readily available from the [Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles]?” he asked. “It seems like there’s some redundancy there. You could really increase staff’s efficiency so they can spend more time on other aspects of the job.”
He said a tweak of the county ordinance that governs taxation might be a means of addressing the matter, noting that he has asked other commissioner’s offices in the region how they handle it.
Fletcher said her office requires residents to submit the forms as a cross-reference, to ensure she has correct ownership information from the DMV or, in the case of boats, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Without this system, she said, mistakes could be found when people pay their taxes in December.
Many localities, including Goochland County, have switched to a pro-rating system, in which they collect information from DMV on a weekly basis so they can issue an assessment to a new car owner as soon as they acquire the vehicle, rather than waiting until the start of a new year.
Responding to concerns raised by Braswell, Rosson said he is not aware of issues with the assessor’s office, which falls under the purview of the commissioner. Braswell said in May he has heard of situations where residents have had to hire counsel to resolve a dispute over their property’s valuation.
“The one thing about this office is it’s there to serve the public,” Rosson said. “It’s not there to be combative or antagonistic. You’ve got to bend over backwards to keep the peace, if you will.”
When he’s not advising farmers on the best practices to use on their land, Rosson helps his parents and brother operate their own farm, Quaker Hill, on Poindexter Road. The farm raises Angus cattle, hogs, hay and grain.