2016 William A. Campbell Award Recipient:
Carl Tilghman, Tax Administrator – Carteret County

Durham, NC – June 6th, 2016. Posted by Amanda Dillon.

Intro: During the North Carolina Tax Collectors’ Association (NCTCA) 2016 Spring Conference in New Bern, Carl Tilghman of Carteret County was awarded the William A. Campbell Award. Tilghman joined the Carteret County Tax Office in 2003 and since, has made great strides in local tax culture, culminating in 2013. 2013 is the year that Carteret County earned the distinction of Excellence in Assessment Administration from the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). This achievement placed Carteret County among just 28 other offices worldwide to earn the distinction.

A description of the William A. Campbell Award via NCTCA’s website can be viewed in detail here.

Prior to presenting this award, NCTCA President Randy Faircloth had this to say of Tilghman:

"During his tenure he has built an outstanding staff who, to his credit, function well in his absence, seldom requiring a call for help in his absence… Carteret County carries a 98% plus collection percentage for several years under his direction. His staff will quickly tell you there is no one fairer nor even-tempered than he."

Farragut spoke with Tilghman to gain his perspective on this recognition, and hear his advice on what it takes to be successful in the local gov tax industry & achieve the Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration (CEAA). More information on the CEAA can be viewed in detail here.

You’ve been at the Carteret tax office for approximately 13 years now. What big changes have you seen in NC tax culture since 2003?

"The biggest changes have been with the application of technology to the tax process on both the assessment side and collection side. We have mobile CAMA tablets for appraisers to use in the field, excellent GIS programs to assist with the taxation process, and mass appraisal programs that all help automate the appraisal process. We have electronic file storage, in-house lock box processing, on-line pay systems and other programs which assist with listing and collection."

What are the most rewarding aspects of your position?

"The most rewarding aspect is also the most challenging and that is providing good public service in a subject matter of which most people have some degree of resistance or at least a hesitancy of enthusiasm and that is: the payment of taxes. To do that task so that our citizens feel that they are being treated fairly and understand that they are participating in their government is both rewarding and challenging."

What drove the decision for Carteret County to obtain the Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration from the IAAO? (For additional information on this achievement, view our article on the Leading Edge of the Assessment Industry)

"We began this process as a learning and training exercise. In completing the application, we had to review our procedures and processes in great detail. We discovered our strengths and weaknesses and took corrective actions where indicated. We expanded our strengths and implemented them in all our operations. This was also a great opportunity for all our staff to pull together for a common goal. We had everyone working on the application in their area of expertise and sharing that knowledge with others on our staff and making contributions to the final application. It was a great morale-building and learning tool."

Any advice to other NC local gov tax offices that may decide to go through the process for getting the Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration?

"I would recommend that other tax offices apply. I would suggest that the process be treated as a major office project and be done when there is time to devote to the project. We did ours in between re-appraisal years and not during any software conversion process."

How does it feel to be given this award by the NCTCA President?

"This is a very high honor. William Campbell was the State’s resident expert in property tax law. His service to the School of Government and the State of North Carolina over the years is unequaled. His book is on my desk and I refer to it often. He is still the “go to guy” for property tax answers. To have an award in his name is truly exceptional."

You were awarded as NCAAO Assessor of the Year in 2013. How does this award differ, in your opinion, than Assessor of the Year?

"Assessor of the year is an award of ones’ peers and has its significance in that recognition. The Campbell Award is a recognition of achievement of standards in property collection and administration set by William A. Campbell himself over a lifetime of service and dedication to the State of North Carolina. It has a unique special significance."

Besides the certificate from the IAAO, are there other accomplishments you’re proud of from working in the Carteret County Tax Office that you would like to share with others?

"All that I have achieved has not been of my doing. There is a great staff of people who work here and have been the reason for any success that I have had. So I would like to give credit to all those who have worked for me and those who are still working for me. Without their dedication to public service and to their profession all of our accomplishments would not have been possible. They are truly the reason for the success of the Carteret County Tax Department. Having known these people and having the opportunity to work with them has been my greatest achievement."

Do you have specific goals you hope to accomplish within NC tax culture before retiring?

"No specific goals. We might re-new our IAAO Certificate of Excellence in 2018. I think we should do that. In any event, we intend to keep on striving for excellence in public service, knowledge of property tax administration, and an attitude of professionalism in all that we do."