North Castle voters Tuesday night comfortably approved changing the receiver of taxes from an elected to an appointed position, a move that town officials believe will make the office more efficient and save money.
Unofficial results from the special election released shortly before 10 p.m. by Town Clerk Alison Simon revealed the proposition had passed 408-251.
“I think it’s a good night for the town, it’s a good night for the taxpayers and a good night for future (town) boards,” said Supervisor Michael Schiliro.
Various elected town officials had periodically discussed the change during much of the past decade since a 2008 special state commission’s study on efficiencies in local government recommended that a municipality’s tax receiver position should be appointed.
Prior to the vote, town board members had compared the receiver of taxes to a high-level administrative post, which should not be left to an election where any town resident could run for the position.
Earlier this year, the current board decided to move ahead with the referendum after the town’s longtime Receiver of Taxes Patti Colombo informed officials she would retire within the next couple of years and did not want to run for another four-year term. Her current term expires at the end of the year.
The board had eyed this spring as the time to hold the vote in order to have the results known before candidates would have to file petitions in July for the election. With the referendum’s passage, that will no longer be necessary.
Schiliro said the town board plans to appoint Colombo to the seat for Jan. 1 and have her lead the office’s transition before she leaves. Projections have pegged the town’s eventual cost savings for the town at about $100,000 annually, he said. The town could choose to make the tax receiver a part-time position or combine it with another job like they do in some towns, including New Castle. Efficiencies can also be achieved through better use of technology, he added.
Schiliro mentioned that over the generations local government has continued to evolve, and making the receiver of taxes an appointed position helps move North Castle forward.
“This is one of the changes that will help the town over the next 20, 30, 50, 100 years,” Schiliro said.