By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker is preparing to move in January to take over as the head of the county tax assessor and collector office.
Winning the Democratic primary in August, Hooker was officially elected to the position on Nov. 5, running unopposed in the general election.
After nearly 12 years in his current position, Hooker said his experience, as county administrator, would bring important insight into his new position.
“The tax assessor-collector has an important (role) not only for the county but the municipality,” Hooker said. “It serves as the entry level of having a relationship with our taxpayers at the front line.
“People don’t think about this, no matter if it’s your school, if it’s a municipality or it’s your county, (tax money) enters through the tax assessor-collector and that person has the responsibility of collecting all those funds, but then also more importantly is to categorize those funds to make sure those boards and those entities of government can function.
“It’s the responsibility of the tax assessor to make sure the money you’re paying in gets to the appropriate school districts. Also the role is to get it to the right municipality and you work with those particular municipalities.”
Hooker emphasized his knowledge of the role due to having to work with the office in outlining the county budget.
“Just like the tax assessor works with me (as county administrator) because I’m trying to project a budget,” Hooker said. “I have to also sit down with the tax assessor and look how we’re looking in bringing in revenue so I can properly advise the board of supervisors.”
Hooker called serving as county administrator “a highlight” of his career.
“Maybe it has an extra layer to it because I’m a person from Bolivar County, but to come in every day to work and try to improve the quality of life of people that you grew up with is a rewarding job and I’ve enjoyed that,” said Hooker.
“If you can make things a little bit better, and that was always my goal as county administrator was to look at the county holistically and to try and make improvements and embrace projects that will keep us moving forward.”
Hooker thanked the citizens of Bolivar County for any time someone approached him with a compliment for the work that was being done.
“You don’t know how much that means to you when you’re in the midst of a job doing it,” Hooker said. “I’m going to take the same integrity, the same hard work and dedication that I brought to county administrator, I plan to take it to the tax assessor-collector office as a new challenge and to try to do a good job for the citizens who have entrusted me to do that.”
Hooker also thanked the numerous board supervisors he has worked with including Donny Whitten, Larry King, James McBride, Preston Billings, Benitha Williams, Richard Coleman, Pete Roncali and Eddie Andrew Williams III.
“There’s always going to be disagreements, but I think I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been able to sit down with board members with the ultimate goal of making Bolivar County the top priority,” Hooker said. “I’m very happy to have that. My experience has been a delightful one.”
Hooker said he is currently unaware of the board’s specific plans to determine his successor as county administrator but expects the board to make the determination on that process in the coming weeks.