• Four people and the words, Extension Matters.

Assisting Assessors

A woman wearing a black, yellow, and white dress stands in front of a bookshelf filled with books.
Myra Murell Davis, Scott County Tax Assessor and Collector

Extension Center For Government and Community Development trains local government officials

When Myra Murrell Davis graduated from East Central Community College in 1979, she did not have a clear career path in mind.

“I earned a business degree, but I didn’t really have any idea what I wanted to do or where that degree would take me,” she says.

She accepted a part-time job at the Scott County tax assessor and collector’s office in August of that year and ended up with a 35-year career serving Scott and Lauderdale County citizens.

Except for the seven years she spent in the Lauderdale County tax collector’s office between 1987 and 1994, Murrell Davis has worked in Scott County, where she grew up.

“This is all I’ve ever done,” the Forest native says. “I love it. I enjoy everything about my job. I get to meet and visit with the people we serve in this county.”

In 1997, she was elected tax assessor and collector in Scott County. Although she had almost 20 years of experience with collections, she said she needed help learning the appraisal part of the job. Extension’s Center for Government and Community Development played an important part in helping her succeed in her new role.

“When I was elected, I went through the Mississippi Certified Appraisers School,” Davis says. “That was very valuable to me because I was not familiar with the assessment part of the job. I had only worked in collections until that point.”

The school is a two-week intensive training session that helps assessors and appraisers achieve certification required by state law. Attendees learn about mapping, urban and agricultural land valuation, preparing and maintaining tax rolls, and appraisal of personal, residential, and commercial property.

“This course gave me an overview of the entire office and how the process of appraisals and collections is supposed to work,” Davis says. “Until I went through the class, I didn’t know how to read maps. It also helped me understand the appraisal process so that I can explain to citizens how we calculate the value of their property.”

The Mississippi Certified Appraiser School is part of the center’s Mississippi Education and Certification Program. Created in 1979, it continues to help local government officials, including appraisers and assessors, gain greater expertise in the valuation and equalization of property for ad valorem purposes.

The program is a partnership that includes the center, the Mississippi Department of Revenue, and the Mississippi Assessors and Collectors Association. It offers certification, recertification, educational programs, and technical assistance to municipal and county government officials throughout the state.

In addition to the assessor education courses, the center coordinates the Mississippi Tax Collector Education and Certification Program in partnership with the Office of the State Auditor. The program was established in 2010 to provide certification opportunities for tax collectors and deputy collectors.

“Local government is government that is closest to the people,” says Terence Norwood, Extension instructor with the center. “These government officials are the face of government to the citizens of Mississippi, and when they attend our certification programs or training sessions, we are building their capacity as public servants. Ultimately, it is the taxpayers and citizens of the state who benefit through improved services.”

As a collector, Murrell Davis participated in many of the center’s education programs, and she has earned numerous designations, including Mississippi certified appraiser, certifications in assessment evaluator I and II and collector of revenue I and II, and Mississippi assessment evaluator.

She served as the 2013-2014 president of the Mississippi Assessors and Collectors Association and said job related education has always been a high priority for her.

“Without the training I got through the certified appraisers school, learning this job would have been a very slow process,” she says. “I also am able to attend continuing education classes that help me learn new aspects of the job and keep my certification up-to-date.

“Education is also important for my staff, and I am grateful for the learning opportunities we’ve had through the Extension Service that allow us to continually improve service to Scott County citizens,” Davis says.

GCD: Who We Are and What We Do

The Mississippi State University Extension Service Center for Government and Community Development provides educational training, information, and technical assistance to government leaders, community-based organizations, state and local agencies, and business enterprises.

The center coordinates with various state offices to provide several state-mandated certification programs for the following professions:

Purchase, Receiving, and Inventory Control Clerks

The GCD and the State Auditor’s Office provide education that leads to certification for clerks. County supervisors and county administrators may also receive training through this program.

Tax Assessors and Appraisers

The GCD, the Mississippi Department of Revenue, and the Mississippi Assessors and Collectors Association work together to provide educational training, from performing needs assessments to grading examinations, that leads to certification and recertification.

Municipal Clerks and Collectors

This training, coordinated by the GCD, the Municipal Clerks and Tax Collectors Association of Mississippi, and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, helps city clerks and collectors understand the law and become more proficient in their duties.

Tax Collectors

The GCD, the Office of the State Auditor, Mississippi Department of Revenue and the Mississippi Assessors and Collectors Association work together to provide educational training that leads to greater expertise in county tax collection processes and services to tax payers.

Attorneys for County Boards of Supervisors and Chancery Clerks

In cooperation with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Mississippi Board of Animal Health, the GCD provides educational training and certification, including Incident Command System training, to local emergency managers, 911 operators, and state and local officials. The MSU Extension Service Center for Government and Community Development helps build strong relationships and is committed to strengthening Mississippi communities and improving the skills of local government officials.

For more information, publications, and associated links, visit http://www.gcd.msstate.edu.

MSU Extension Service
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Extension Matters Volume 1 Number 2.

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