Cobb tax commissioners appoint their own chief deputies, and Downing chose Jackson for the job in 2012. The office is a four-year term which next opens in 2016. In the case where a tax commissioner retires early, the deputy assumes the position, Jackson said.
Jackson named Chelly McDuffie of east Cobb manager of the levy office which is in charge of delinquent collections, as her chief deputy.
Downing, who is retiring to spend more time with her family, said she and Jackson share many of the same values.
“We both believe that essentially this office belongs to the people, it belongs to God, and he gave me an opportunity, and now he’s going to give Carla an opportunity to use it for a little while and hopefully leave it in better condition than we got it,” Downing said.
Downing pointed to Jackson’s experience in the private sector before she came to work for her in 2003 as one of her many qualifications.
A CPA, Jackson has worked for both Home Depot and Turner Broadcasting.
“She has great leadership ability and she’s a visionary,” Downing said. “She can look and see how things could be, and is not at all a status quo person, like if we’re doing a good job we should sit back and be happy about that. She’s very much like I am in terms of being driven to always better. Do more with less. She’s got a number of good qualities, and she’s just a person of impeccable character.”
As tax commissioner, Jackson will oversee a staff of 104 people with an annual operating budget of $520,000 and personnel budget of $6.9 million. She describes her office by first explaining what it does not do, such as determine values or set millage rates.
“Therefore, what that leaves for us to do is we’re basically responsible for every phase of billing and collecting ad valorem taxes,” Jackson said. “What that entails is we partner with the tax assessor on the preparation of the tax digest in presenting the tax digest to the state. Once that is approved, and we have what we call a billing order from the state, then we take the values that the tax assessor provides, we take the mill rates that have been determined by the governing authorities, and we calculate and create tax bills. We do the math. And then we disperse them at various set intervals to the taxing authorities.”
The biggest challenge of the job, she said, is keeping up with industry standard technology so her office and the state can communicate with ease.
Her favorite part of the job is customer feedback.
“I guess the way I look at things as far as customer satisfaction, I can’t give anybody a discount, I can’t change the rules of the due dates, so what we have to work with is making it a good experience or at least maybe almost an invisible experience because who wants to pay taxes, right?” Jackson said. “So as seamless as we can make it, as painless as we can make it, if we can offer people different channels to do that whether they’re using their mobile device, their tablet, whether they want to mail it to us, then I’m all for it.”
Born in Englewood, N.J, and raised in Seneca, S.C., Jackson lives in northeast Cobb with her husband, Eddie, a parapro with Marietta City Schools. The couple has three children.