06/25/04 — Tom West to retire from county tax office

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Tom West to retire from county tax office

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on June 25, 2004 1:59 PM

Save your jokes. After 18 years as Wayne County's tax collector, Tom West has probably heard them.

When people see West coming, they say things like, "Oh, my gosh, he's going to get my blood or my money," he said with a laugh this morning. "So many people do it in jest."

Tom West


Good-natured ribbing is part of the job when you're the person ultimately responsible for collecting more than $35 million in property and vehicle taxes every year.

But take your shots at West now. He will retire at the end of July.

Deputy Tax Collector Tammy Peele has been appointed the interim tax collector, effective July 1. Mrs. Peele has worked for the tax office nearly seven years and held the deputy position for two years.

West, 62, believes it's time to step aside. He has worked for the tax office for 21 years and has been the tax collector since July 1, 1986. He also worked for 16 years as an accountant in the private sector.

"I just feel like I've pretty much met my goals," he said. "I have reached a point where I'm satisfied with how the office is running, and I'm ready to let someone else take over."

The tax department has steadily increasing its collection rate in recent years. The county recently renovated the tax office so that it's more customer friendly. The office has installed new software, and tax information will increasingly be available over the Internet.

West had been thinking strongly about retiring for six months before making his announcement.

"I'm not ready to stop -- I do want to stay active in the community -- but I'm also still young enough that I can get out and enjoy my life," he said.

West plans to travel. He also will assist his brother, Jerry West, who's a farmer in northern Wayne County.

"I have a wonderful family. My nephews are very special to me, almost like my children," he said. "I have more friends now than I ever have had."