Shonna Colley, who has 26 years experience in the Dougherty County tax office, will become the county’s third-ever tax director at the start of 2014. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — Shonna Colley’s career is proof of the old adage “Patience Is a Virtue.”
For 26 years, Colley has toiled away in the Dougherty County tax office, starting as a Level 1 tax clerk in 1986 and gradually working her way up the ladder: to senior tax clerk, to appraiser, to auditor and to personal property manager.
Now, with long-time Tax Director Denver Hooten set to retire at the end of the year, Colley is prepping to make the ultimate move. When the new year kicks in, she will become only the third full-time tax director in the county’s history.
“I’m just thrilled about this opportunity, but I have to admit I’ll be a little nervous when I actually become tax director,” Colley, an Albany native, said. “I’m confident in the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, but I know this is a big responsibility.
“But one of the things I have working to my advantage is I know the people in the tax office are going to work with me to make this a smooth transition. We all work so well together — we truly are a second family — and if I have questions I know staff is going to work with me.”
The man who named her to succeed Hooten, and who will serve as her boss in her new position, has no doubt Colley can do the job.
“I have a lot of faith in Shonna,” County Administrator Richard Crowdis said. “Certainly there will be a bit of a learning curve as she moves into this new position, but I’m confident she’ll accumulate the knowledge (needed for the position) just as Denver did when she was in that position. She’s been in the office 26 years, and she’s worked in a lot of areas. I’m sure she’ll step up and do well for the taxpayers of the county.”
A Westover High School graduate, Colley studied office administration at Albany Junior College (now Darton State College) before switching her major to accounting at Albany State College. While she was at ASU, she started work in the county tax office.
Now she’ll be in charge of the 31 employees who’ve been her colleagues, some for more than two decades. Her outgoing boss is confident she’ll make the transition with little trouble.
“There are areas she hasn’t dealt with a lot, but there are other areas where she’s much stronger than I am,” Hooten said. “She has a great background in this office, and I’m sure she’ll do a great job.”
County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said Hooten’s recommendation impresses him.
“Denver has great faith in Shonna, and that means a lot to me,” Sinyard said. “They’ve been working together to make this a smooth transition, and I’m confident that’s going to happen.”
Colley said her familiarity will probably shorten the “honeymoon” period most new directors get.
“Most people say you get a full term as a ‘honeymoon,’” she laughs. “But I’ve been here 26 years, so I expect mine will be a little shorter. Maybe half a year or so. But I’m ready. I’m excited and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m so thankful to Mr. Crowdis and the (director search) committee for giving me this opportunity.
“I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but I’m ready to get to it.”