Longtime Jonesboro City Hall staffer retires after 38 years
JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Imagine accounting for the collection of millions of dollars in city fees and taxes without the help of a computer.
That was the case for Becky Sharp, who went to work for the City of Jonesboro in 1981.
“A lot of handwriting of bills and that kind of stuff, but we didn’t have near the business, and we didn’t have near the licenses” as today, Sharp told The Jonesboro Sun.
After 15 years as assistant city collector, she spent the next 23 years in the top position.
At the time, the U.S. Census Bureau said the city’s population was 31,530.
Now, 38 years later, it’s estimated to be a city of 77,000.
Sharp retired this month.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” Sharp said. “I don’t regret spending most of my life here. It’s been good, lot’s of changes. Lots more money. Lots more bills.”
While annual privilege licenses were printed using a primitive computer by today’s standards, it was still up to Sharp to put them in envelopes to be put in the mail, and then post the receipts on individual index cards.
“Everything else, I had to do handwritten receipts,” Sharp said. “And a big old cash register.”
Computers didn’t come along until the mid-1980s, and like most people encountered with new technology, Sharp “was scared to death.”
City collections was a two-person shop when Sharp started. While the population and number of different fees and taxes to be collected has grown exponentially, the office now features three full-time employees and two part-timers.
“Every penny that comes to the City of Jonesboro has to come through this office,” Sharp explained.
That includes privilege licenses, building permits, burial fees at the city’s cemeteries and fees at city parks. A variety of other things have been added over the years, such as alcohol taxes from private clubs and fares for Jonesboro Economical Transportation System.
One thing she no longer has to collect is parking meter fees.
When a business fails to pay its annual privilege license, she often goes out and personally collects. When she hears of a business operating without a privilege license, she also pays a visit, she said.
Sharp said only about 20 businesses and professionals — out of about 10,000 — have failed to pay their 2019 privilege licenses.
While few people like to shell out hard-earned money to the government, Sharp said she only recalls one truly angry customer.
“He got real ugly, using bad language,” Sharp recalled. “So I just told him if you’re going to talk like this, I’m not waiting on you. I will go back to my desk and sit down. He apologized.”
Sharp, 64, has no special plans for her retirement.
“I’m just going to take it easy for awhile,” she said. “I’ve had a good life here. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Tosha Moss will soon be her successor.
“I’ve got a long ways to go to fill those shoes,” Moss said of Sharp.
Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com