DeWitt: No tax dept.?

Two proposed local laws were tabled Monday during the DeWitt Town board Aug. 11 meeting after nearly an hour and a half of sometimes heated discussion.

The local laws were two options for the board to consider in its discussion of the elimination of the position of tax receiver or of the entire department. Supervisor Edward Michalenko tabled both after repeated questions of preparedness from both the public and other board members.

"If we come to a resolution, which appears remote, we will hold a special meeting," Michalenko said, on or before Sept. 4.

Discussion began on a hopeful note.

"What we're looking to do is consolidate offices and reorganize some of the workloads at town hall," Michalenko said at the beginning of the meeting.

The current tax supervisor, Victor Vasta, has held the position for 17 years and will retire in December 2009. The proposed laws would have abolished his position at the end of his tenure. Michalenko estimated the savings would total almost half a million dollars over 10 years. Had the board adopted either law on Monday, the law would have gone up for referendum in November.

Aside from the collection of $60 million in taxes each year, the tax receiver is also responsible for $2 million in water fees every year, Vasta said in a short statement to the board.

"Don't eliminate competent, qualified personnel to save a few tax dollars," he asked.

Board member Irene Scruton, who had proposed the second law up for adoption that would have eliminated the department, said the town has a responsibility to cut costs where it can.

"If we get rid of the manager, we still have the staff," she said. "I felt the residents deserved a voice if they wanted it or not."

Still, she said she was left with questions about the implementation of either plan.

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