New tax administrator

William A. Lankford Jr. holds up his right hand and has his left hand on a Bible as he is sworn in as county tax administrator by Eddie Settle, far left, chairman of the county commissioners. Holding the Bible is Lankford’s wife, Amy Lankford.

An employee of the Wilkes County Tax Department since 2008 is the new county tax administrator.

William A. “Will” Lankford Jr.’s appointment to the position, which includes tax assessor and tax collector, was unanimously approved by the county commissioners during their July 1 meeting. It was effective that day.

He was sworn in by Eddie Settle, chairman of the commissioners. Lankford, 43, has been one of the department’s tax appraisers since Alex Hamilton, prior tax administrator, hired him.

“I’m really excited to get started,” said Lankford in an interview. “We have a great team and I want to strive to provide the best public service possible.”

He also cited educating the public about county property tax matters as a goal.

Lankford said work has started on the next county property revaluation, with new values expected to be in place for fiscal 2022-23.

“I appreciate the confidence of the county commissioners and the county manager (John Yates). I also appreciate Alex for hiring me.”

Lankford said Hamilton “casts a long shadow.” Hamilton joined the Wilkes tax office in 1995 and became tax administrator July 1, 1999.

The commissioners interviewed four finalists out of 14 people who applied after Hamilton announced his plans to retire, effective June 30. Lankford was hired for a two-year term with a starting salary of $69,163.

County Attorney Tony Triplett said that under statutes, the initial term of the tax assessor must be two years and thereafter can be two or four years. Triplett said a person can be appointed tax collector for one or more years.

“Normally we appoint a person tax collector and assessor for two years, under the title of tax administrator,” Triplett said.

Commissioner Brian Minton made the motion and Commissioner Casey Joe Johnson seconded to appoint Lankford tax administrator. Also during the meeting, Lankford said he wouldn’t let the commissioners down.

He needs to complete one more tax collector course and one tax assessor course at the N.C. School of Government to be certified as a tax collector and assessor. There also are continuing education requirements.

Lankford, of Wilkesboro, has an associate degree in business administration from Wilkes Community College. He is a Wilkes native and graduated from West Wilkes High School.

He previously held an administrative position at Wilkes Medical Center and before that worked at W.A. Lankford Co. Inc., a general contractor in North Wilkesboro.

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