Greene County Collector Leah Betts recognizes the serious business done in her government office. It’s responsible for collecting and distributing more than $250 million annually for roughly 40 taxing districts in the county.
Still, she says it doesn’t mean the residents who send or bring in tax payments every year should have anything less than an enjoyable experience with the office.
“I have created an atmosphere unlike most, or maybe any, local government office,” says Betts, who started her first elected position in 2015 and was reelected in 2018.
“We want to be extra helpful via fun correspondence and a surprisingly pleasant voicemail system.”
The office atmosphere is punctuated by a bell with flying pig on it for people to ring when they are satisfied with their staff interaction. T-shirts with the flying pig printed on them also are part of the fun. Betts says those contribute to the office’s goal of providing an experience that’s “not government-y.”
Over the past several years, staff has received hundreds of written compliments from the public – which Betts considers unheard of in a government business.
“The public cares about good service and (is) hungry for it,” she says of the office’s large, overflowing binder of compliments. “It shouts loudly that government doesn’t have to be boring, uncaring, pushy, rude and all the other words you can think of when you think of government.”
Even before getting elected to the collector’s post, Betts picked up several years of experience in the county office, serving as chief deputy collector from 2003-07 and 2012-15. She began work in the office in 1999, serving as lead cashier for four years. The 1996 Central Missouri State University graduate considers her predecessor, longtime Greene County Collector Scott Payne, as one of her greatest mentors.
“He taught me many great things about work ethic and strategic planning,” she says.
The taxes annually collected in the office go toward supporting various Greene County operations, with roughly 75% of funds for local schools. The remaining 25% includes funding for roads and bridges, fire departments and the library system.
Since being elected, she’s implemented office improvements, such as taking credit and debit cards for tax payments and mailing out personal property and real estate statements together to save money.
Betts says as long as the office is well managed, it’s relatively invisible.
“If ever there was a lack of properly completed job duties, the community would certainly know it, feel it and suffer from it,” she says.
Primarily motivated by her Christian faith, Betts says her desire to treat others like she would want to be treated extends into the workplace.
“The top flows down in an organization and it shows,” she says. “By hiring the right kind of people it ensures a teachable group with great attitudes and a willingness to serve.
“I can be a good example all day long, but if I haven’t hired a teachable person, it is all a loss.”
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.