Former, current tax collectors build rapport
The outgoing and incoming tax collectors in Haywood County appeared shoulder to shoulder at the podium of the Haywood County commissioner meeting this week, pledging to work together to make the transition a smooth one.
“There’s a lot of animosity out there that has been created by other individuals, and not you two at all. I appreciate you being able to get over that,” Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick told them.
The lack of animosity was a recurring theme.
“I don’t think there is any animosity between he and I. We have been getting along great,” replied Mike Matthews, the incoming tax collector.
“Just to clear the air, we have no animosity personally,” agreed David Francis, the outgoing tax collector. “People are trying to create animosity between us and it is just not there at all.”
Francis added they are both Carolina fans, thankfully, given Francis’ ardent sports allegiances.
Matthews narrowly beat out Francis — an upset that surprised Matthews’ supporters and even Matthews himself. Matthews was recruited to run by a faction of conservative activists who regularly decry county government and targeted Francis as an integral player in the bureaucracy they seem to despise.
Matthews didn’t personally have it out for Francis, however, and Francis realizes Matthews was merely recruited to the ballot. While they have rejected the political baggage being foisted upon them, only time will tell if Matthews indeed breaks from the anti-government faction that pushed him to run.
The two spent a lot of one-on-one time during Matthews first week on the job, as Francis introduced Matthews to the ins-and-outs of tax collecting.
“He has jumped right in there. He is ready to work and doing a good job,” Francis said.
Matthews said he is catching on to the computer and coding systems.
“Honestly, it is not as bad as I thought it would be. David has been a big help,” Matthews said.
But Francis cautioned it will probably take Matthews a year to get over the learning curve.
Commissioner Bill Upton, a former teacher and principal, was quick with a school analogy.
“From what I can see, Mr. Matthews has been a good student and Mr. Francis is being a good teacher,” Upton said, judging by the drop-in visit he paid the pair at the tax office Friday.