North Castle officials are exploring a move to convert the town’s elected receiver of taxes position into an appointed post in hopes of achieving cost and labor efficiencies and expanding the pool of job candidates.
The town board is revisiting the issue and weighing whether to schedule a required referendum this spring in order to make a change.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the town has three options: converting the receiver of taxes to an appointed position, abolishing the position or maintaining the status quo. A referendum is required to make it an appointed post or to abolish and would have to be scheduled by May or early June, he said.
The receiver of taxes seat is up for election this year and potential candidates would need to collect signatures and submit petitions to the board of elections during the summer.
While the issue has been raised before, it has taken on a new sense of urgency. Longtime Receiver of Taxes Patty Colombo had indicated that she would probably retire at the end of this term, but has since mentioned that she would like to stay on for another two years. However, she does not want to serve another four-year term and would probably not run for re-election, Schiliro said.
“We’ve been fortunate to have had all the people we’ve had, including Patty, but going forward a municipality is better served when you’re hiring for the administrative function versus leaving it to an election because you’re able to interview and choose,” said Schiliro, who mentioned he is opposed to abolishment.
Town Administrator Joan Goldberg said the office is busiest in January, April and September to coincide with the collection of school and town taxes. The job as currently structured includes other tasks such as the apportioning of tax bills and sending out correspondences to banks and mortgage companies to collect property taxes paid through escrow accounts, she said.
Also, every July the receiver of taxes is responsible for filing a list of properties with the county whose owners have been delinquent on their taxes for at least two years, which could trigger in-rem proceedings, said Town Attorney Roland Baroni.
If a change is made, the town could examine whether to restructure the receiver of taxes position as well as the other finance-related offices along with the division of tasks among the comptroller and assessor because there is interaction between those offices, Goldberg said.
“Part of the efficiency of doing something like that, combining the tax office with another department, is that for the other months, outside of collection, the other nine months of the year there are labor hours that we’re not capturing because the staff of the tax office is stuck in the tax office,” Goldberg said. “There’s an opportunity for another office to gain labor hours if we cross-train employees.”
Space limitations at North Castle Town Hall, however, could limit options for restructuring.
Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said the subject is worth exploring.
“I think another reason why we’re having this discussion is that there are cost savings, which are significant,” DiGiacinto said.
Baroni said the town board would have to hold a public hearing and pass a resolution in order to schedule a referendum. The special election would have to be held at least 20 days but not more than 60 days following the board’s approval of a resolution, he said.
Last week’s board discussion on the issue drew comments from one resident, Ed Loberman of North White Plains. Loberman said he was concerned about the cost of a special election and that no current employee loses their job or a portion of their pay through any restructuring.
Schiliro estimated that the election would cost the town about $10,000.
Erin Maher contributed to this article.
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