The Moretown Select Board believes it’s losing out on valuable tax dollars each year and is trying to take a step to fix it.
On October 11, Moretown will revote on whether or not to give the select board the authority to appoint their delinquent tax collector, which is currently an elected position.
The original vote was held on August 7, but there was a call for a revote because members of the community did not feel that the original vote was properly warned.
The original idea to make this change came from a letter they had received from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.
In the letter that the select board received January 5, 2016, the select board was informed that towns could now shift the responsibilities of the delinquent tax collector to the town treasurer after a town vote. It also gave them instructions on how to do so.
Many other towns have sought this option, said Michelle Beard, as it is an easy way for the town to save money.
If Moretown votes to give the select board this authority, then the town may also vote to set the salary or hourly rate for the position. The amount that the current delinquent tax collector is paid will certainly outweigh any added salary that would be added to the current treasurer’s pay.
Currently, all of the fees and penalties that are incurred through delinquent taxes are paid to the delinquent tax collector. In 2015, the 8 percent penalty fees amounted to $20,271.53, up from 2013 and 2014, which were $13,262.20 and $11,048.23, respectively, amounting to $44,581.99 in just three years.
This is money that could be going to the town, said Michelle Beard.
At previous meetings there has been firm opposition from a few community members that the previous vote had been properly warned and they thought the town was moving too fast when taking away an elected position, taking away some of the towns checks and balances.
At a select board meeting on August 8, when asked why the board proposed the change, board member Michelle Beard said that the town’s desire to appoint the delinquent tax collector stemmed from the board learning, via the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, that towns could appoint a delinquent tax collector and the select board thought that it would save the town money.
“To get to that end you took away my right to vote and you did it without allowing me an opportunity to have a public discussion about it?” town resident Sheila Getzinger asked.
It is important to note that the town treasurer is an elected position, Beard said. The select board would have no more control over delinquent taxes than they currently do.
The select board also denies that the change in position has anything to do with the current delinquent tax collector; they have repeatedly said at meetings that he has done a great job and that they are solely looking at the financial benefit.
Maura Carroll, executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, said that the option to appoint a delinquent tax collector can be enacted for various reasons, whether it is for efficiency, financial benefit or even if there is no one who wants to run.
The bottom line is “if it works for the community then the option ought to be there,” she said.
Corrections Made: Voting Date Corrected to October 11