By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Feb. 3 — Rebecca “Becky” Smith marked 35 years in the commissioner of the revenue’s office on Aug. 1, 2022. Now, six months later, she’s asking for four more years.
Smith announced this week that she will be seeking a third term as Page County’s Commissioner of the Revenue — a position she first earned at the polls in 2015.
“I have dedicated my whole life to this place…I started when I was 19 and through the years I have loved the work,” Smith told Page Valley News on Thursday. “I love the purpose…I never questioned that this is what I’m supposed to do.”
It was 1987 when Smith crossed the street from the Janney and Janney law firm — where Robey Janney had taught her how to do title work — and asked former state trooper and longtime commissioner of the revenue, Charlie Campbell, if he had any opportunities in his office.
“Charlie said he might have an opening soon, and he later hired me and the rest is history,” Smith said. “I really want to credit my ex-boss because he really made sure that I knew the entire office.”
Campbell had Smith work specifically in certain areas at different times, so she could focus on the differences in dealing with various taxes on real estate, personal property, meals, lodging, income and even programs providing tax relief for the elderly. All gross receipts arrive in the commissioner of the revenue’s office first before heading to the treasurer’s office for the collection of levies. Campbell made Smith chief deputy of the office in 2003 — a position she held until being sworn-in as Page County’s Commissioner of the Revenue in January of 2016.
“I enjoy the interaction with people and service to our community,” Smith said. “It’s become my goal in life to make everything possible available to our taxpayers and our citizens. It’s such a part of me now…it will always be a part of me.”
Smith will once again seek the GOP nomination, as she did in her first two bids for public office. She has been a member of the Page County Republican Committee since 1987. The local committee is expected to meet at the end of the month to set the rules and the process for selecting candidates for this year’s local election cycle. Final endorsements will be made and announced likely at a mass meeting in either late April or early May.
Smith was unopposed in both 2015 and 2019, and so far, no challengers have emerged in the early going. She grew up in Stanley and graduated from Page County High School in 1985.
The two-term constitutional officer is a master certified commissioner of the revenue, a distinction she obtained from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Affairs. She was also a master certified deputy commissioner of the revenue and was tested annually, accumulating numerous years of classes and training.
“You don’t just go in and get your certification, you work for it,” Smith said.
Recently, the commissioner of the revenue was notified that the Page County office once again received accreditation from the Commissioner of the Revenue Association of Virginia.
“Accreditation is warded only to those offices that have met the rigorous standards set forth by the [Association],” reads a Jan. 9 letter from the organization. “The twelve standards set forth by the Association include education requirements for the Commissioner and staff, customer service, personnel, and ethics policies as well as assessment methodology.”
Every Jan. 1, members of Smith’s staff are asked to sign an agreement that they will be honorable and provide good service, according to the commissioner. The staff is all certified, she adds, except the newest employee who is working on her certification.
Next year, the commissioner’s office anticipates going through a five to six month process of upgrading software required due to a vending company’s merger with a larger corporation. Stonewall Technologies merged with Vision Governmental Solutions, which will cost the county $125,000 in upgrades. Some of the other 36 localities in Virginia facing the same transition have to pay up to $250,000 because they will be starting from scratch with the new vendor.
“We don’t have much of a choice in this case,” Smith said. “We’re always looking for as many ways as possible to get all forms online and conduct business online to help those who cant’ make it here during business hours.”
Smith says she is available by email 24/7 and encourages taxpayers to contact her with questions or problems. In an effort to make services more accessible, the office provides outreach services in Stanley and Shenandoah to make applications available for the tax relief program for the elderly. Smith adds, that if residents are shut in, she will come to their homes to provide the necessary forms.
One year after the tragic shooting of Stanley Police Officer “Nick” Winum in February of 2021, Smith brought a proposal before the board of supervisors to adopt an ordinance allowing a full tax exemption on real estate for the spouse of first responder or police officer that lost their life in the line of duty. The ordinance passed unanimously — as did a 2021 proposal to levy a cigarette tax in the county.
“I thank the people of Page County for putting their trust in me,” Smith said, “and I will continue to give the same commitment to it that I have for the past 35 years.”
Contact Page County Commissioner of the Revenue Becky Smith