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Gaynell Hendricks Wins Third Term as Jeffco Tax Assessor

By Sydney Melson
The Birmingham Times

Tax Assessor Gaynell Hendricks won a third term to her Jefferson County seat in Tuesday’s General Election and said she’ll continue her work of educating residents about the benefits and exemptions of property values.

She pointed to the tax breaks for those over 65, people with disabilities and other exemptions. “I began putting billboards up around the county to make sure people knew about it. Prior to that, it was just word of mouth.”

In Tuesday’s race for Jefferson County Tax Assessor Hendricks, the Democrat incumbent, was re-elected to third term with 55.69 percent, or 176,693 votes, to Republican Challenger Jonathan O. Barbee’s 44.23 percent or 140,274 votes, according to unofficial results.

One of the most important things she’ll be working next year is to get the Legislature to approve online exemptions and other services, she said. “Many people that had to come down to our office could have done much of their work online,” but online features such as form signing need to be approved by the Legislature first”, said Hendricks.

Part of her duty as tax assessor has meant helping taxpayers keep their exemptions, she said. “[In 2011] we had terrible storms where many homes were demolished because of tornadoes, so we were able to get a bill passed that would give taxpayers the ability to keep their exemptions even if their homes were demolished,” she said.

Much of Hendricks’ efforts are to make tax assessments more accessible. “We’re making sure taxpayers are taking advantage of [exemptions]. I’ve enjoyed the job, it’s very important,” she said. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hendricks said the pandemic inspired her to push for electronic filing for citizens of Jefferson County.

Hendricks said the pandemic meant making the tax assessment process safer. “We worked quickly to make sure taxpayers could get in and get out as fast as possible, as well as encouraged taxpayers to make phone calls if they could,” she said. Employees also rotated shifts to reduce their exposure to the public.

In the future, Hendricks hopes to increase protections for taxpayers who live in gentrified areas. “People who live in those neighborhoods, many times they live in those homes for years and have low taxes, but suddenly a $300,000 home is built. Now the homeowner who has lived there for years has much higher property taxes,” she said.

Updated at 7:15 a.m. to include most recent election result numbers. 

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