Mike Smith celebrated his final day as Fayette County auditor Friday after 10 years of service to the county.
Smith was elected in 2006 and was sworn in as auditor in March of 2007. This was not the first time Smith has served the public though.
“I’ve been a public servant my entire career in different capacities,” Smith said during an interview Friday. “I worked at the Fayette County Engineer’s Office in the 1990s and 2000s before I came to this job. I worked for the Madison County engineers back in the 1980s. I also used to serve the Air Force as a civilian and I have had a total of about 50 years in public service.”
After all of his work, Smith said he realized he was ready for retirement. He said the most noteworthy aspect of his job was working with his fellow employees.
“It is always enjoyable to help people understand taxation or why certain things happen,” Smith said. “I know that they appreciate someone taking time to try and discuss it with them. I enjoy that part. And moving into this new technological world has been very helpful for the assessment of property. The technology hasn’t necessarily made the job easier, but it has made it more readily available to help the public and do our jobs.”
Working with commissioners and other government agencies is a large part of what Smith has done over the years. He said that in Fayette County, the community is very fortunate compared to other parts of the state.
“We have always had a group of office holders and officials who have cooperated with each other,” Smith said. “Very reasonable discussions occur and we are able to get things done in a cooperative manner. That is very refreshing to see the cooperation between the commissioners and other office holders. There are other places in the state where it can get contentious sometimes between local officials. We (in Fayette County) are all here to try and look out for the interests of our taxpayers.”
The retiring auditor thanked his family for all of their support over the years. Smith said that his wife, Tracy, has always given him support and encouragement since the beginning.
“She is always there, she always has my back and that is who I really appreciate,” Smith said. “Someone behind the scenes that you never see or never get to talk about, but do so much. I don’t have any immediate plans (for his retirement). I am going to take two or three months to reflect on what the next phase will be. I don’t have any specific plans. Of course there is always work at home to do. I am going to devote more time to one of my veterans’ associations. I am with the Hamburger Hill chapter of the Rakkasans. We have a national association and I serve as treasurer, so now I will have more time to dedicate to those activities.”
Smith said his family will be going on a couple vacations this year. He also noted a few of the employees at the auditor’s office who have been around for as many years as he has, if not more.
“We have Brenda Mossbarger, Beth Long has been here the whole time, and most of the other girls have been here for a few years now,” Smith said. “Brenda is being appointed as auditor. She has been in the office for 20 years and I have known her for 10 years, and it has been a really good relationship. I think they all will do just fine when I am gone.”
The support from the community over the years is appreciated by Smith, he said. The agricultural community, which has been suffering difficult times over the last few years, has been particularly understanding. The increase in the taxation of farmers based on a number of factors has been troubling, Smith said, and they have had to bear a huge increase in value and taxes.
“I really appreciate their willingness to let me try and explain what the state has done and passed on down to us,” Smith said. “It has been difficult for them, but I appreciate their willingness to listen and understand the process a little bit better. I also really appreciate the staff here at the office as well and their support. I have a really wonderful staff.”
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy