By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

(Lawrenceville) –  The tax services manager in the Gwinnett County Tax Assessor’s Office has earned the highest certification for local government finance awarded by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.

Lisa Ballouk received a Local Finance Officer Level II Certification from the CVIOG after completing intensive classwork on government accounting and a project revamping the Tax Assessor’s website to make it more informative and user-friendly.“Government finance is unlike any other accounting,” said Chief Appraiser Stewart Oliver.

“Government provides such a variety of services, and the rules are complex enough to make government financing an extremely challenging field. Lisa took on that challenge and mastered it, which will benefit the taxpayers of Gwinnett County. We’re very proud of her.”

Ballouk, who has worked six years in the Tax Assessor’s Office and 11 years at the County, said the coursework gave her a deeper understanding of government finance and how government works.

“You learn a lot but I didn’t feel overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s a huge amount of information. It’s a wonderful overview of all the different departments and all the laws the County has to abide by. It gives you a true understanding of governmental fund accounting.”

Ballouk had to complete courses on revenue administration, budget preparation, government accounting and internal controls. She decided to focus her project on reworking the website because she thought it could be made easier to navigate. The new format better educates taxpayers on the role of the Tax Assessor’s Office, which enables them to quickly find the information they need and helps protect their rights.

“I approached the project from the perspective of a taxpayer and their needs,” she said. “The website and information needed to be easily accessible, logical and intuitive. The project appears to be successful, as our call volume has declined by 35 percent since it went live after the first of the year. This has freed up staff to serve taxpayers in other needed areas.”

As Tax Services Manager, Ballouk’s duties include overseeing the agency’s call center and service counter, as well as the group that ensures assessment data record integrity. She also manages the team that keeps track of deeds, plats, ownership changes, exempt properties and properties in community improvement districts.

Ballouk is the 11th Gwinnett County employee to earn a Level II Certification from the CVIOG.