Todd Divers, Commissioner of Revenue, City of Charlottesville

Todd Divers, Commissioner of Revenue, City of Charlottesville

Your job title is Commissioner of Revenue. What, in your own words, would you say you do?
The primary function of the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office is to assess taxes. That means that we determine the value of different types of property for tax purposes. We assess all types of taxes: personal property (think cars and trucks), business property, machinery and tools, etc. We also work with businesses to file and pay the trust taxes that they collect on behalf of the City (meals tax, transient occupancy tax, etc.).

On top of that, we also administer a number of very important tax relief programs. These programs were designed to help offset some of the tax burden on our lower- and middle-income citizens resulting from escalating real estate values. It is a very busy office. 

What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
Honestly, there is a lot about this job to like. I like to think that we are responsible for helping keep the lights on, so to speak. The revenue we assess is used to provide services, to pay for things like police and fire protection. That gives me satisfaction. It is also incredibly rewarding to help out the folks who come see us for one of the relief programs that we administer. Many of these people are in pretty dire financial circumstances, so to be able to help their situation feels pretty good.

The toughest part? Let’s face it, I’m the tax man. Nobody enjoys paying taxes, so that’s not pleasant. But we try to be delicate and congenial and as nice about it as we can. I have even heard from some business owners that they actually don’t mind coming to see us (for what would otherwise be a relatively unpleasant task) because our people are so friendly.

How does your job most directly impact the average person?
In all kinds of ways. Name a City service that people use or need, like sidewalks, transit (CAT), police, the fire department, or the schools. You name it, the revenue we assess helps make that service possible  

What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the City?
Since I only assumed office in January of 2014, everything so far has been a “first” for me. So it has all been interesting. I will say that I particularly enjoyed working on a recent revision to the City Code involving meals tax and transient occupancy tax. Hopefully we were able to clarify and simplify certain aspects of those taxes for the merchants who must collect and remit them. I also like working with other departments in City Hall on initiatives where we can collaborate. The City is fortunate to have so many wonderful people working here.

What is a little-known fact about you?
I have a twin sister. I like to tell people who don’t know her that I am the pretty one. This makes her mad.